Whiplash treatment plans will be dependent on the extent of the injury, but often involves a commitment to physical therapy.
Whiplash, a painful injury to the neck seen most commonly in low impact car accident victims, can last for just a few days or for the rest of a victim’s life.
The first hurdle with whiplash is with it’s diagnosis. Since X-rays are inefficient at detecting the injury, a physician must rely on the events leading up to the onset of the pain, and their physical assessment. They will employ techniques that isolate painful areas to pinpoint the source. If he suspects an injury that is severe in nature he may employ one or more of the following diagnosis methods:
X-ray imaging is only used if the doctor believes there has been a fracture to the cervical spine or if the spine appears to be unstable. This tool will not be useful for any other soft tissue diagnosis.
An MRI is used if the physician suspects a pinched nerve in the neck. Although not always effective in diagnosing whiplash, and MRI can help rule out a pinched nerve if the pain is acute and persistent.
If your neck is not responding to therapy, a physician may be considering surgery. Before committing to this treatment plan, he will use a discography to determine if a damaged disc is contributing to the condition. This is the introduction of an injection into the disc to find any flaws.
These diagnosis techniques are generally only used when traditional treatments are not working. In most cases, giving the doctor the events leading up to the accident and a full physical exam will be enough for a diagnosis.
Treatment Methods Of Whiplash
The extent of treatment for whiplash varies depending on the severity of the injury. In minor cases you may be prescribed pain medication and ice therapy to bring down the swelling and restore mobility. For more advanced cases of whiplash treatment could include:
Strength Building: Exercises designed to strengthen the region and restore muscle may be prescribed by a physician. In some cases you may be referred to a chiropractor or physiotherapist, who can help you with common exercises.
Spinal Injections: Typically used in acute cases of whiplash that involve compression of the nerves.
Radiofrequency Neurotomy (RFN): For severe pain in the facet joint from nerve damage, heat may be applied to the nerves to help stop them from sending pain signals. This treatment can control pain for approximately a year and is only used with chronic cases of whiplash.
Spinal Manipulative Therapy (MT): This is typically administered by a physiotherapist who use the therapy in conjunction with strength building exercises to relieve pain and restore function.
Surgery: Surgery is advised when there is significant deterioration of a disc that is causing disability for the patient.
Of utmost importance is getting diagnosed quickly to allow for treatment to begin. Patients who delay treatment increase their risk of developing further painful complications.
What to do If You Suspect You Have Whiplash?
If you are experiencing neck pain that lasts more than one day you should make an appointment with your physician immediately. After an exam he should be able to prescribe a treatment method that is designed to minimize your pain and discomfort and facilitate healing to the neck muscles.
If it was an accident which caused your whiplash speak to an attorney about the events leading up to it. Your treatment may be indefinite, and an attorney could help you recover any monetary damages from the individual responsible for the accident.