Question: My car was rear-ended. Since then, my neck hurts, feels rigid, and I have upper back pain. My wife says it’s whiplash and that I should see a physician. Is there anything that I can do to accelerate my recovery? Should I see my physician and/or chiropractor? How long will my pain last?
El Paso, TX
Answer: Your symptoms are typical of a whiplash injury caused by a vehicle accident. Whiplash is cervical spine strain caused when the head and neck are thrust quickly forward and backward. To fully grasp how whiplash can lead to neck pain, you want to recognize the head, which weighs 8-13 pounds and is supported and moved by the neck. Because of this, it’s easy to understand how soft neck muscles and ligaments are stretched during a whiplash accident!
The seriousness of whiplash is dependent on the force of the impact, the way you were seated in your vehicle, and if you were properly restrained with a shoulder and seat belt. By way of instance, if your head was turned, your neck injury may be more painful.
1. Even though your neck injury occurred last week, you may try ice and heat. Ice will help to reduce swollen overstretched muscles and ligaments. Heat increases circulation and eases tight stiff muscles.
Ice: Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes as often as once each hour.
Heat: Apply warmth (moist is greatest!) For 15 minutes every 2 or 3 hours.
- Never sleep with a ice or heat pack!
- Wrap heat or ice in a towel to protect your skin.
- Discard punctured store-bought ice or heat products.
2. If your doctor agrees, try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.
3. Move your neck softly to assist in preventing additional stiffness.
4. Should you work in a computer or desk, take regular breaks to relax your neck muscles.
5. Avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and head.
6. Avoid carrying heavy packages, especially things such as a pocket book or backpack slung over only one shoulder.
Check With Your Doctor & Chiropractor
Neck pain is common either immediately after or several days following a whiplash injury. Other symptoms can develop too. Fortunately, most symptoms go away in two to four weeks. If your symptoms worsen, or you develop headache, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, arm or hand numbness, check-in with your physician or chiropractor. If necessary, you’ll be referred to a spine specialist.
Your physician or chiropractor will carry out a physical and neurological examination, and acquire a neck X-ray. After they produce a diagnosis, treatment is coordinated for your recovery! Treatment may include prescription pain medication, anti inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, a cervical collar, massage and physical therapy.
Other Symptoms Associated With Whiplash Or Neck Strain:
- Ringing in your ears
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Hoarse voice
- Upper back, shoulder, and/ or arm pain
- Back pain
- Abnormal sensations such as numbness, burning or prickling
- Fatigue and sleep problems
Keep in Mind
Most individuals with whiplash improve quickly within a matter of weeks. When you have concerns, we recommend you to speak to a doctor or chiropractor.