What're the treatments for whiplash?
There is no single treatment for whiplash that is widely accepted among doctors. Treatment for individuals with whiplash may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a cervical collar (usually worn for 2 to 3 weeks). Physical therapy and exercises may help strengthen neck muscles and improve neck
motion. While exercise used to be recommended later in the recovery period, current recommendations suggest that maximum benefit is obtained from beginning prescribed exercises within a day or two of injury. Supplemental heat application may relieve muscle tension.
Inflammation and cramping can be alleviated by wrapping ice or an ice pack in a thin towel and applying it to the injured area for 10-20 minutes every hour. After the first 24 hours, painful muscle spasms can be prevented by alternating cold packs with heat treatments. Letting a warm shower run on the neck and shoulders for 10-20 minutes twice a day is recommended. Between showers, warm towels or a heat lamp should be used to warm and soothe the neck for 10-15 minutes several times a day. Improving posture is important, and gentle massage can be beneficial. Sleeping without a pillow promotes healing, and a cervical collar or small rolled towel pinned under the chin can provide support and prevent muscle fatigue. Alcohol should be avoided. A chiropractor, primary care physician, or orthopedic specialist should be notified whenever a painful neck injury occurs. Another situation requiring attention is if the face or arm weaken or become painful or numb following a neck injury.
Paracetamol and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be given for short periods for pain in the back of the neck and headaches. Some people find that these work better than paracetamol. They include ibuprofen which you can buy at pharmacies or get on prescription. Other types such as diclofenac, naproxen, or tolfenamic need a prescription. Some people with asthma, high blood pressure, kidney failure, or heart failure may not be able to take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Stronger painkillers such as codeine or dihydrocodeine are an option if anti-inflammatories do not suit or do not work well. These are often taken in addition to paracetamol. Constipation is a common side-effect from codeine and dihydrocodeine. To prevent constipation, have lots to drink and eat foods with plenty of fibre. A muscle relaxant such as diazepam is sometimes prescribed for a few days if your neck muscles become tense and make the pain worse.
Neck muscle pain from whiplash is initially treated by placing the neck at rest in a well-fitting soft cervical collar, applying local heat treatments, and administering pain medication. The symptoms will completely subside in 2 to 4 weeks in the majority of the patients. Patients who continue to have symptoms while on this treatment regimen may obtain temporary relief by mild cervical traction with a halter used in the office or at home. Local anesthetic injections into trigger points of pain and tenderness may also be helpful. Treating a chronic pain condition effectively usually requires a combination of techniques. In addition to behavioral changes and drug therapy, anesthesiologists use different types of nerve blocks to alleviate pain. Anesthesiologists also use nerve blocks as diagnostic tools to help determine the specific mechanics of the pain process. This allows them to differentiate various types of pain including psychogenic pain, central pain syndromes, complex regional pain syndrome and somatic pain, all crucial information for the anesthesiologist. Once the particular pain problem is confirmed, therapeutic nerve blocks can be used for pain relief.
More information on whiplash
What is whiplash neck strain? - Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa.
What causes whiplash? - The most common causes of whiplash are motor vehicle accidents, especially when the vehicle is struck from the rear.
What're the symptoms of a whiplash? - Symptoms of a whiplash include neck pain, neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments, headache, dizziness.
How is whiplash diagnosed? - Whiplash is difficult to diagnose because x rays and other imaging studies do not always reveal changes in bone structure.
What're the treatments for whiplash? - Treatment for whiplash may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants.
How to prevent whiplash? - There are no guidelines for preventing whiplash because it often occurs due to an unexpected event.