Whiplash is an acute neck injury that occurs from a forceful backward-and-forward (“whipping”) motion of the neck and head. This injury is most often due to a car accident, but it can also happen when playing sports and in other high-impact activities. The injury stresses the neck muscles, ligaments, and the cervical spine – which is the topmost section of the spinal column in the neck.
Whiplash causes intense neck pain and stiffness, but it may take a couple of days before it is felt. This is why it is important to have a doctor’s evaluation right after suffering a high-impact accident even if you don’t feel like you were injured, because the physician’s report will serve as proof of the injury if necessary when filing a claim.
The symptoms may go away on their own, but it largely depends on the severity of the injury. Treatment often focuses on pain management and physical therapy exercises to facilitate healing.
How Can Whiplash Be Treated?
A physician will first assess the extent of your neck injury. Controlling pain is a main focus in treatment, and the treatments may include one or more of the following methods:
Supportive Neck Collar
Your doctor may recommend that you wear a foam collar to prevent neck movement, which can exacerbate the symptoms and slow down the healing process. However, it is not recommended that you wear it for an extended period of time, because the collar can contribute to muscle weakness and atrophy as you’re not using those muscles in your neck.
The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain-relieving medication. Temperature therapy also helps with recovery, and it is usually advised that patients with whiplash apply heat and ice to the affected area a couple of times each day for 15 minutes each time. Be sure to follow your doctor’s directions in order to prevent getting a burn or frostbite.
While recovering from a whiplash injury, be sure to get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal. Do not be inactive during the day, however – exercise your legs and walk around to facilitate circulation and movement.
A physical therapist (PT) can teach you exercises that will assist with a slow return to your neck’s normal function. Moreover, the PT can also use physical therapy modalities that can ease your neck pain, such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy.
Family Doctor in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach
If you’ve been involved in a car accident or sports accident and are experiencing symptoms of whiplash, our family medicine providers at Advanced Medical Clinic can quickly diagnose your injury and prescribe treatment. We offer full-service medical care for the whole family, from immunizations to checkups to preventive care. We also offer same-day appointments and serve walk-ins for urgent healthcare needs.
To request an appointment with one of our outstanding healthcare providers, call Advanced Medical Clinic today at (561) 434-1935 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your family’s go-to medical clinic!