Whiplash is a common injury following an auto accident. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, whiplash injuries can lead to further problems, such as chronic pain and immobility. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for after an auto accident and how whiplash is treated.
Whiplash often happens when a vehicle stops, jerks or turns suddenly — usually from a collision. The resulting abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head is how you sustain a whiplash injury to your neck. The symptoms may not show up right away, making whiplash a quiet injury that can lead to pain and discomfort later down the road if left untreated.
Symptoms of whiplash range in severity, but can include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Pain radiating into the shoulder(s)
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Headaches, particularly those that radiate from the back of the head towards the front
There may be other symptoms present not listed above that is why it is important to be seen by a physician. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can make a huge difference to your recovery from this type of injury to your spine. Our goal at Florida Physical Medicine is to get our patients back to their normal level of functioning while treating their injuries appropriately as soon as possible.
Whiplash treatment also varies from person to person and is based on the severity of the injury. For mild cases of whiplash after a car accident, your doctor may recommend icing the area, over the counter anti-inflammatory medications and rest.
Icing the neck can help reduce swelling and pain, and anti-inflammatory medications can also help with your pain and swelling. Massage and moist heat may also be considered after you have iced your neck for a few days, which is another tool that can help you recover from your injuries.
More serious whiplash injuries usually require additional treatment. Your medical provider may prescribe a regimen of physical therapy and in some cases epidural steroid injections or radiofrequency ablation to get to the root of the problem and provide relief from your pain.
Physical therapy helps patients get moving again with a few different methods. Some, described above, can include hot and cold therapy or deep tissue massage, as well as various exercises. There are other more active methods for treating whiplash as well. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop an exercise plan that will gradually improve your strength and range of motion. You may also need to work to correct improper posture during your daily activities.
Epidural steroid injections are performed by a pain interventional specialist. This type of injection targets the space surrounding the membrane that covers your spine and nerve roots. A steroid injection into this space sends the needed medication directly to the area that needs the most help and can provide relief for up to a few months. Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that takes just a few minutes but can provide long-lasting pain relief. These procedures are done once patients have completed a course of conservative care and are still experiencing symptoms despite therapy and other means of treatment.
Recovering from Whiplash
Your doctor (or team of doctors) will develop a treatment plan that caters to your specific injury and your personal needs. Early diagnosis and treatment can really improve your long-range recovery from whiplash caused by an auto accident. We at Florida Physical Medicine can diagnose and treat you right here with our amazing team of doctors who focus only on patients recovering from auto accidents.