Although most cases of whiplash respond well to therapy, acute cases of whiplash will sometimes need surgical intervention to repair.
This is most prominent in cases where the initial injury caused a dislocation of one or more discs in the back.
Who is a Candidate For Whiplash Surgery?
Whiplash can cause damage to discs at the base of the spine. This type of injury can be treated in some cases with therapy. A physician will often first recommend extensive physiotherapy before exploring the option of surgery. If there is no significant improvement after physiotherapy they will most likely recommend surgical intervention.
A surgeon is also going to want to do a complete physical exam including imaging of the area to make sure that you are a good candidate for surgery. Based on his assessment he will recommend the right surgical procedure, if any, for your condition. The type of surgery will depend on which area of your spine and neck have been affected by your whiplash injury:
Herniated Disc: In between the vertebrae at the base of your neck are liquid filled discs. If this disc ruptures or herniates you will feel intense pain that radiates into the arm. If spinal manipulation by a physiotherapist does not correct the problem a surgeon will need to remove the disc. This procedure, known as a discectomy, will leave the spine unstable unless the surgeon inserts an artificial disc. He might also encourage spinal fusion to the area that encourages the vertebrae to fuse together and offer stability.
Spinal Stenosis: Whiplash can sometimes lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal inside of the neck. To correct this, a portion of the vertebrae will be removed in order to reduce the pressure this is putting on the nerves. With the creation of a larger pathway, the nerves are no longer being pinched.
As with any type of surgery, there is going to be a certain level of risk to the patient. Be sure that you understand and accept those risks and possible complications before agreeing to any surgical procedure.
Recovery From Whiplash Surgery
Do not expect instant relief from whiplash surgery. In fact, expect to continue your physiotherapy as soon as you are able. A qualified physiotherapist will be able to advise you about how to sit, lie down, and rise so as to prevent further injury to the neck. They will also work closely with you to ensure a speedy recovery that restores your mobility.
What to Do if You Think You Have Whiplash
The most common cause of whiplash comes from rear end car collisions, where the front car was stationary at the time. The sudden jolt to the head causing it to be jerked forward and backward stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments inside of the neck causing swelling and severe pain.
If you are involved in such an accident, you should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible. The shock of the accident may be masking the pain of whiplash, allowing you to believe that you are not injured.
While you are on the road to recovery, consider seeking compensation for your monetary damages with the help of a qualified lawyer. Not only will you have accrued a significant amount of debt from the injury, it is likely you have lost income from missed days of work.