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What is Whiplash and How is it Treated?

whiplash painNeck strains and sprains tend to be lumped together and are most commonly referred to by the term whiplash. Although usually associated with injuries that are from an auto accident, any sudden forward motion of the head and neck or a fast, hard stop that slings the head forward can result in a whiplash injury. The sudden force injures the tendons and muscle sand ligaments of the neck by stretching and tearing them, thus resulting in pain, weakness, stiffness, and numbness. Neck strains most often relate to damage done to the muscle or the tendons in the neck. Neck sprains come from the tearing of the ligaments and the connective tissue of the spine. These injuries are different but have many of the same symptoms and causes. Car accidents, sports related injuries, trips and falls, hits to the head, and other similar types of impacts can lead to the symptoms of whiplash and we have dealt with many such cases here at Tree of Life!

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

The pain resulting from a whiplash injury is hard to ignore:

  • Pain down the neck that radiates to the shoulder or head.
  • Stiffness and numbness of the neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Inability to move the head up and down or side to side without pain.
  • Pain from small movements such as holding head up or laying down.
  • Tenderness in certain areas with an almost bruised sensation when touched.
  • Headaches that start at the base of the spine and spread up through the head.
  • Loss of feeling and range of motion in one or both arms.
  • Loss of concentration, focus, and the feeling of being foggy or confused.

Sometimes, it is immediately apparent that you have suffered an injury and the symptoms of whiplash are visible within minutes if the injury. Other times the symptoms may come on more slowly and may not show for hours or even days. This is especially true of auto accidents where the adrenaline rush can often block pain receptors for some time after the accident has occurred and it is not until later that the pain and injury is discovered.

What’s the Treatment for Whiplash?

In most cases, whiplash will get better on its own with rest and proper protection against further damage during recovery. To help with recovery many physical therapists recommend the follow to help treat the symptoms of whiplash:

  • Ice the neck to dull pain and reduce swelling.
  • Take painkillers that are available over the counter to help control pain levels for the first week.
  • Use a neck brace if needed but not for more than a day or two or it will make stiffness and loss of mobility even worse.
  • Apply moist heat after swelling is gone to help loosen muscles, speed healing, and slowly get back mobility and range of motion.
  • Other treatments such as massage or chiropractic adjustments are also helpful in getting you back to full health after a whiplash injury.

When Will My Whiplash Feel Better?

It is important to remember that everyone is different and everyone’s body responds to injury at a different rate. You may need a few weeks to recover from your whiplash injury but someone else may need only a week and another person may need almost a month. Once the acute symptoms and pain are gone, it is usually best to try and resume as much of a normal routine as possible. Stiffness, sore muscles, and loss of mobility will get better with gentle use. Rehabilitative therapy, muscled building, and chiropractic care will help you heal faster and will also help reduce the chances of repeat injuries down the road. To get help today with your symptoms of whiplash or to ask about a recent whiplash injury you may have sustained, call us today at Tree of Life Chiropractic today and let us help you get back on your feet!

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