Whiplash Injuries: Symptoms & Treatment
What is Whiplash?
Have you ever experienced debilitating neck pain after a car accident? If so, you may have suffered from a whiplash injury. Sudden jerking of the head, whether it be from an automobile accident, fall, or sports injury, can cause a significant amount of damage to the neck’s muscles, ligaments, joints, intervertebral discs, and bony anatomy. When these supporting structures of your neck take the bulk of the impact, this can lead to a neck sprain or strain, which is formally called a whiplash neck injury.
Some of the symptoms associated with a whiplash injury can include neck pain, headaches, arm and/or shoulder pain, numbness, and tingling. In addition to these symptoms, it is not uncommon to have changes in vision, memory, and sleep.
In most cases, a whiplash injury can be diagnosed by an orthopedic spine physician with a history and physical examination. However, if the whiplash symptoms are more concerning, imaging in the form of X-rays, MRI, and CT scans can be useful to rule out more serious injuries.
A thorough and early evaluation of the patient can often lead to an accurate diagnosis of whiplash injury. Fortunately, the treatment options for this type of neck injury are low risk and can help the patient return to their routine lifestyle in as little as a few weeks.
It has previously been thought that immobilization of the whiplash injured neck with a cervical collar would be beneficial. This concept has instead shifted over the last decade to that of early movement. Based on sound scientific evidence, orthopedic spine physicians around the country and those at Resurgens Orthopaedics have found that early mobilization, ice for the first 24 hours, and anti-inflammatory medications (i.e. Motrin or Aleve) can lead to faster recovery. Other treatment options for whiplash pain have included muscle relaxants, antidepressants, focused neck stretches, physical therapy, controlled traction exercises, massage, and heat. In some circumstances, injections can play a role in reducing whiplash related symptoms.
Fortunately for the patient, symptoms from a whiplash neck injury often go away after a few weeks or a month without the need for surgery. In the event that significant symptoms persist beyond a few months, one should seek the advice of an orthopedic spine physician with a keen understanding of spinal injuries. Your physicians at Resurgens Spine Center in Metro Atlanta are focused on providing a holistic approach to the treatment of a whiplash neck injury. We are optimistic that you will have a favorable outcome!
Board Eligible, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
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