Whiplash Injuries: Diagnosis and Treatment

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The treatments for whiplash are relatively simple. Doctors will often prescribe an OTC pain medication like Tylenol or aspirin. More severe injuries may require prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms.

In addition to medication, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery. You may want to apply ice or heat to the injured area and practice simple exercises to build strength and flexibility in your neck. Practice good posture and learn relaxation techniques to keep your neck muscles from straining and to help with recovery.

Whiplash: What you need to know

You might also be given a foam collar to keep your neck stable. Collars should not be worn for more than three hours at a time. They should only be used the first couple of days after your injury, as well. Some people with whiplash do experience chronic pain or headaches for years following their accident.

Doctors may be able to trace this pain to damaged neck joints, disks, and ligaments. But chronic pain following a whiplash injury typically has no medical explanation. However, very few people have any long-term complications from whiplash. Usually, recovery time is anywhere from a few days to several weeks. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , most people recover fully within three months.

The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain…. Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, is common. Although it can be unpleasant, it usually isn't a reason to worry.

You may also experience headaches , muscle spasms and pain in your arms or shoulders. If you have whiplash, the ligaments in your neck will be overstretched. This is known as a sprain. Hyperextension and hyperflexion are where the tendons and ligaments of the neck are forcefully extended or flexed beyond their normal limits. Although the ligament isn't broken, a sprain can often take a long time sometimes several months to heal.

How does it happen?

After an accident, the symptoms of whiplash often take a while six to 12 hours to develop. Any inflammation and bruising in neck muscles won't usually be evident at the time of the accident. Whiplash is usually short lived and self-limiting it gets better on its own , but in a small number of people the symptoms persist beyond six months. This is known as chronic whiplash or late whiplash syndrome see below. Following a whiplash injury, symptoms of headaches and dizziness should only last for a short time.

See your GP if they persist.

Whiplash - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Read more about how chronic whiplash is treated. However, sometimes whiplash can cause a number of severe and troublesome symptoms that last for a long time. If you have whiplash, it's important to keep your neck mobile by doing some gentle neck exercises.

What WHIPLASH Symptoms are most COMMON?

Any pain you experience when moving your neck is normal and won't cause further damage. If you rest your neck and keep it still it's likely to prolong your symptoms and delay your recovery. Therefore, wearing a neck brace or collar isn't recommended. Paracetamol is recommended to treat mild neck pain. You should use it regularly rather than only when the pain is most severe. If your neck pain is severe, your GP will be able to prescribe a stronger painkiller, such as codeine.

This can be used on its own or in combination with paracetamol to provide increased pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen , can also be used to help ease the pain and reduce inflammation. Avoid taking ibuprofen if you have a stomach ulcer , or if you've had one in the past. You should also avoid taking ibuprofen if you have severe heart failure or liver disease.


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The symptoms of whiplash can sometimes last six months or more. There's little in the way of scientific evidence to suggest which treatments are most effective for treating long-term whiplash.

Whiplash Injuries

Your treatment plan should be based on your specific symptoms and focus on dealing with the cause of your pain. As well as keeping your neck mobile and using painkillers, the self care measures below may also help you manage the pain and stiffness in your neck and prevent them getting worse. Most cases of whiplash eventually get better without any lasting damage, but sometimes the pain can be prolonged and severe.

Whiplash that lasts for several months or longer can sometimes cause anxiety and depression. If the injury was the result of a motor vehicle accident, sorting out the damage to your vehicle and dealing with compensation claims can often be stressful and time-consuming. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

The new edition of this book provides an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of whiplash-associated disorders, focusing in particular on a functional approach to clinical and instrumental diagnosis and rehabilitative treatment. It fully reflects the changes in our understanding of whiplash injuries since the first edition, and in particular the increased awareness that whiplash is a whole-body trauma in which forces act progressively from the lumbar region to the brain, through the cervical spine. Detailed attention is paid to the functional connections between the sense organs of the inner ear, the sympathetic system, and the spine with a view to optimizing diagnosis and treatment.

It is explained how various treatment options can be employed to best effect in patients with different symptoms, following, but updating, the well-known Quebec Task Force guidelines. Underestimated aspects such as positional vertigo, somatic tinnitus, temporomandibular disorders, and back pain are also considered. This book will be an invaluable tool in everyday clinical practice for all who are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of whiplash injury. Read more Read less. See all free Kindle reading apps.