Understanding Whiplash Treatment
Whiplash is one of the most common types of neck injury. Most cases are associated with automobile accidents, but it can also result from other high impact events. The severity of a whiplash injury can vary significantly depending on the circumstances. While most cases of whiplash can be successfully treated, the level to which the injury heals and the duration of the symptoms can be greatly affected by the approach to treatment.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of injury that occurs when the neck is subject to a sudden acceleration/deceleration force that causes it to jerk forward or backward. Rear-end car collisions are one of the most common causes of whiplash injuries, but any event that causes the neck to jerk forward or backward with great force can result in whiplash.
When the cervical spine is subject to such a force, it causes it to move in a way that is unnatural to its normal range of motion, and this can cause injuries to soft tissue like muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most whiplash injuries are mild, and the person can expect them to completely heal within a few weeks, but there are some that can have a long-lasting impact.
The most common symptoms of whiplash are pain and stiffness in the neck, however, other symptoms can occur depending on the scope of the injury. Additional symptoms include pain and stiffness in the shoulders, headache, dizziness, fatigue, back pain, jaw pain, arm weakness and tinnitus.
Beyond the severity of the injury, treatment is the most important factor for the expected outcome of a whiplash injury. Patients that fail to seek treatment or wait to seek treatment increase the risk of prolonged injury.
The recommendation of a cervical collar was one of the more common treatment options in the past. A cervical collar can be used to restrict motion and provide support for neck instability. More recently, it has been found that the restricted motion can cause problems as the injury heals. In the modern approach to whiplash treatment, a cervical collar is only recommended for severe whiplash injuries that are associated with significant cervical instability.
The current approach to treating whiplash injuries will focus on a few points: assisting with healing, managing the pain and restoring the range of motion.
Chiropractic care is one of the most common paths to treatment for whiplash injuries. A chiropractor can apply treatments like spinal manipulation and massage to help the injury heal. Along with massage and spinal manipulation, hot and cold therapy can be used to help the patient manage the pain.
Range of motion exercises are also one of the most important parts of whiplash treatments. Your doctor or chiropractor will recommend various exercises that can help to restore the range of motion to the neck. These exercises include various stretches and bends to the neck. Studies have shown that these exercises are one of the most important parts of whiplash treatment, and in most cases, they should start within a few days of the injury.
Treatment is one of the most important parts of healing after a whiplash injury. With proper treatment, most injuries will completely heal. One important point is to not rush your treatment. Some whiplash injuries can be successfully treated in just a few weeks, but there are others that will require several months for a full recovery.