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NECK & WHIPLASH INJURIES

Neck & Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash results from forceful, quick backward then forward movement of the head, and is commonly seen in rear-end car accidents. Some other causes include physical abuse or sports-related collisions in contact sports. Neck injuries resulting from whiplash can injure the vertebrae, the vertebral disks, and the soft tissues of the neck, including the ligaments, muscles, and nerves. While most people who suffer whiplash will feel better within a few weeks and suffer no long-term effects, others have lingering pain. This is especially true for older people who have had previous whiplash or neck injuries.

Whiplash symptoms include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches at the base of the skull
  • Limited range of motion of the neck
  • Worsening pain with neck movement
  • Achiness of the shoulder, upper back, or arms
  • Arm tingling or numbness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • And more

Should I See a Doctor for Whiplash?

It’s important to seek medical attention after a whiplash injury, especially to rule out other conditions like broken bones. It can be difficult to know how you will recover from whiplash without a doctor’s care, but you should definitely seek treatment if you suffer from severe pain, limited range of neck motion, or pain that spreads to the arms.

Whiplash Treatment

The goal of successful whiplash treatment is to restore normal range of neck motion and to restore your strength. Treatment varies depending on the extent of the neck injury, and some people only need over-the-counter pain medication and at-home care to recover fully. Other patients may require prescription-strength painkillers or prescribed physical therapy. For all whiplash patients, the first line of treatment is rest for the first day or two following the injury.

Other treatments that may help alleviate whiplash symptoms include warm or cool compresses applied to the neck, prescription muscle relaxants to loosen tight muscles and soothe pain, and lidocaine injections that can facilitate physical therapy and decrease pain. A soft foam neck collar is usually unnecessary, as studies have shown keeping the neck still can decrease muscle strength and interfere with proper recovery. Physical therapy, if needed, will involve a series of stretching and movement exercises you can continue to do at home.

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