FAQ’s on Whiplash
What is Whiplash?
This motion can tear or strain the ligaments, nerves, and muscles contained in the neck.
What are the causes of Whiplash?
If the head is unexpectedly moved forward or back, then snapped to the other direction, injury can be sustained. The most common occurrences of whiplash occur after an automobile accident that moved the head in such a fashion, or might result from an impact during activity.
What are the symptoms of Whiplash?
Common symptoms include stiffness and pain in the neck, sometimes also occurring in the muscles of the shoulders, chest or arms. Patients may experience headaches or feelings of dizziness. Symptoms indicative of a serious injury include severe pain or stiffness in the neck, a reduction in how much the head can move, and numbness or pain in the shoulders, arms, or hands.
How is Whiplash diagnosed?
Diagnosis of whiplash is achieved with a verbal examination of how the neck injury occurred and the medical history of the patient. An X-ray may be used to look for damaged or broken bones, with an MRI used to examine the soft tissue for other injuries (Whiplash: diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries, 2008).
What are the treatment options for Whiplash?
Pain Medication: Over the counter medications for inflammation and pain may be taken for symptomatic relief. Common medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Patients who are not able to obtain relief with over the counter mediations will likely be prescribed a stronger medication by the attending physician.
Apply Heat or Cold: The use of heat on the neck can assist in relaxing muscles, reducing stiffness and pain. A heating pad can be used in 15 to 20 minute sessions, with one session every two or three hours. Patients may also switch one of these sessions for a warm shower, or use single-use heat wraps on the neck. An ice pack may also be used, again in 15 to 20 minute sessions, to help reduce swelling and pain. Some patients may find more success with one method over the other, and are encouraged to use the treatment that works best for them.
Rest: Patients are strongly encouraged to avoid any activity that could aggravate the neck. This includes strenuous exercise, or activities that could put the neck at risk.
Physical Therapy: Specialized manual manipulation to loosen the stiffened neck and to restore function to it while providing pain relief. Manual mobilization during physical therapy has been shown to have numerous beneficial effects, and is one of the primary methods of treating neck pain due to whiplash (Treatment of whiplash-associated disorders, 2005), (Osteopathic manipulative treatment for facial numbness and pain after whiplash injury, 2013).
Acupuncture: While not a direct treatment for whiplash, a number of patients were able to obtain improvements in pain sensitivity of the neck and calf when acupuncture was used in a clinical setting. Performed accurately, acupuncture treatment can active the endogenous analgesia centers to provide pain relief (Does acupuncture activate endogenous analgesia in chronic whiplash-associated disorders, 2013).
Injections: Patients who experience chronic pain due to a nerve that has been compressed or pinched by damage suffered from whiplash may be able to obtain relief by receiving an injection into the affected nerve. Injections are primarily used to numb the nerve bundle acting as a source of pain, directly preventing the transmission of pain signals to the brain.