Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the head snapping back and then forward again with a great deal of force and speed. Although whiplash has a reputation for being an injury that people exaggerate for sympathy and even financial gain, it is a very real condition with very symptoms that can last for years. So what exactly is whiplash, and should you see a physician?
Initial Shock and Awe
Almost all cases of whiplash are caused by car accidents. The head motion when a car is hit from behind can cause your neck to snap forward like a whip, while the body usually remains secured by a seatbelt. One problem with whiplash is that symptoms often don’t present immediately after the accident and many people do not know that they have sustained an injury until the initial shock of the accident has passed. There is a moment when the drivers involved in an accident and sometimes a police officer informally assign responsibility (whose fault was it?) and someone will ask if you or your passengers are injured. The initial shock and adrenaline rush from being in an emergency situation like an accident often overshadows the pain that results from whiplash. It could be hours, days, or even weeks before you are aware of the extent of the damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck.
More than just pain in your neck, common symptoms of whiplash include not being able to turn your head (loss of range of motion), intermittent headache at the base of the skull, pain in the shoulders or upper arms and back, dizziness and increased fatigue.
The first course of action to take if you have whiplash is to make sure to rest and apply heat or cold to the neck. You may benefit from taking over the counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Some of the symptoms of whiplash will improve in time, but it may not feel quite the same as before the accident.
Although it’s never too late to treat a whiplash injury, you should see a doctor as soon as you feel neck pain or stiffness following an accident or other trauma. There could be another injury that is not apparent. An examination and possibly imaging tests can confirm the extent of the damage and rule out other injuries or conditions.
- Pain Management. Seeing a pain management physician with experience helping people recover from whiplash can help you right after your injury occurs, or even years later. Stubborn chronic neck pain may require pain management, to include medication or injections.
- Regenerative medicine, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, can be used to treat whiplash pain and promote healing.
- Physical therapy. Most people benefit from physical therapy that stretches, strengthen and loosens tight tendons.
At Star Spine & Sport in the Denver area, experienced physiatrists include regenerative medicine including PRP (platelet rich plasma) therapy among the options they may recommend to treat whiplash.
If you have a neck injury following a car accident, trust the experienced and skilled physicians at Star Spine & Sport to provide cutting-edge treatments in regenerative medicine, including PRP injections. Our office handles all the administrative requirements of your insurance company so you don’t have to worry about anything but getting better. For an evaluation and to get started on the road to recovery, call Star Spine & Sport at (303) 238-4277 today. We see patients in three convenient locations in Golden, Westminster, and Denver.