Whiplash treatment and use of
medications and physical therapy, injury symptom by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 15 2016
Whiplash is an injury to the neck's soft tissue --
including muscles, ligaments and spinal discs -- that typically occurs during a
car accident that sends the head and neck suddenly forward, then back again.
People who suffer whiplash injuries in car accidents are at increased risk of having temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems months later. Such problems can include pain, locking, and clicking in the joint, which is located directly in front of the ears and hinges the jawbone into the skull
Symptoms of whiplash
Impaired neck muscle function leads to disability in individuals with chronic whiplash. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, headache, shoulder pain and dizziness.
Early aggressive treatment of whiplash may have the unintended effect of slowing recovery from the injury. Canadian researchers found that among nearly 1,700 adults who'd sustained whiplash injuries, those who made the most doctor visits tended to recover more slowly. The slowest recovery times were seen among patients who visited both their general practitioner and a chiropractor the most frequently. It is possible that too much therapy could hinder the soft tissues from recovering.
Dr. Pierre Cote and his colleagues report these findings in Arthritis & Rheumatism (Arthritis Care & Research), June 15, 2007.
Just one exercise education session works as well as expensive, long-term physical therapy in reducing pain in whiplash patients. The Lancet, news release, April 3, 2014
Whiplash treatment, initial and chronic symptoms, how to avoid and treat
Whiplash occurs when the neck is rapidly forced forward
and backward, typically in a car accident. It is often diagnosed by excluding
other types of similar injury.
Whiplash is neck pain experienced as a result of a motor vehicle collision or similar trauma. Following a motor vehicle collision, 15% to 40% of patients with acute neck pain develop chronic neck pain. The cervical facet joint is the most common source of chronic neck pain after whiplash injury, followed by disk pain. Some patients experience pain from both structures.
Initial treatment for whiplash
After a whiplash injury, the patient should stay active. Pain medications are used as needed. Some people find the use of a natural herb such as kava can help reduce neck tension and offer relief. Kava pills should not be taken more than a few days in a row without a break.
Chronic whiplash treatment
When neck pain persists and is severe, a surgeon can do medial branch blocks of the dorsal rami of the spinal nerves that supply the painful facet joint or joints; this is done to determine whether the facet joints are the cause of pain. When significant relief occurs on two occasions, radiofrequency neurotomy typically provides substantial relief for approximately 8 to 12 months and can be repeated indefinitely as needed. Occasionally, long-term treatment with medication may be indicated. Anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion is necessary on rare occasions. New research on herbal medicine will be reviewed with time.
Common symptoms of whiplash:
Pain and stiffness in the neck is the most common whiplash symptom
Headaches - Headache seems to be present in 50% or up to 75% of cases in the acute stage, and in 20% to 30% of cases in the early chronic stage of whiplash. Headache naturally occurs frequently in patients who consult headache specialists due to protracted symptoms. Malingering may explain some cases, and continuation / activation of pre-whiplash headache may explain other cases.
Pain between the shoulder blades, in the shoulder or lower back.
Pain or numbness in the hands.
Dizziness, forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating.
Ringing in the ears or blurred vision.
Fatigue, insomnia and irritability. If you have difficulty sleeping, consider the occasional use of Good Night Rx which can also help relax the muscles around the neck.