Written by: Nichole Chaviano, PT, DPT
Over a million people are diagnosed with whiplash each year in the USA alone. Whiplash is caused by a quick jerking motion of the head and symptoms can include an achy neck and shoulder muscles, stiffness through your joints, headaches and even numbness and tingling down the arms. When your body is hit either through the contact with another body such as in a sporting event or with the seat in a car crash your torso gets thrown forward as your neck gets thrown backwards then forward very quickly. In severe cases spinal nerves and joints can be damaged but most likely the injury occurs to the ligaments, muscles and tendons. In some cases, concussion also known as mild traumatic brain injury can occur. When not treated properly symptoms and chronic pain can persist with up to 50% of whiplash victims never making a full recovery.
When the accident appears severe immediate medical attention is usually provided, but in other cases symptoms can take days to weeks to manifest which is when you should seek medical care. X-rays should always be taken to rule out fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae or facet joints. With more severe cases an MRI or CT scan of the neck and head may be needed to better diagnose potentially torn ligaments, spinal cord damage or herniated discs and rule out fatal instability.
When medically cleared it is important to start treatment with Physical Therapy or Chiropractic care to improve symptoms as quickly as possible. A patient’s prognosis significantly improves when they are able to safely keep their necks moving through stretching and mobilization. With an individualized plan of care patients work through strengthening exercises to reduce risk of re-injury. A passive treatment that may be incorporated is infrared light therapy; known to decrease pain and speed up the healing of injuries by improving circulation.
Associated treatments are available including Massage Therapy which works to reduce muscle spasm, combat inflammation and promote relaxation; and Acupuncture, working to reduce pain and inflammation by inserting very thin needles into specific energy points to stimulate healing by releasing endorphins and serotonin.
If you have experienced a whip lash injury the practitioners at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation can help. Our facility has on staff Medical Doctors, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Acupuncturists and Massage Therapists. Our team works collaboratively to create a customized treatment plan for each patient designed to help you recover from your injury. Fill out the form on this page or call 732-345-1377 and mention this blog to receive a FREE consultation ($245 value).