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An Overview of Whiplash and Treatment Options

Whiplash and Treatment Options

Whiplash is a common condition that occurs in the neck because of a sudden forward or backward movement of the head. It most often results from a sudden forceful jarring of the neck, such as an auto or sports accident, physical abuse, or another high-force trauma to the neck. Whiplash affects both the cervical spine and its supporting soft tissues.

Most people recuperate from whiplash with a few months of rest, pain medication, and gentle exercise. However, if symptoms are severe and not treated promptly, the problem can become chronic. Treatment for whiplash is conservative without the need for surgery unless there is a cervical fracture or herniated disc.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Numbness tingling or weakness moving down the shoulder arm hand and fingers
  • Upper back or shoulder pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Concentration and memory difficulties
  • Neck stiffness and limited range of motion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Increasing pain at the base of the neck
  • Nausea
  • Changes in vision
  • Migraine headaches that increase in intensity and duration
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination

Symptoms often do not appear until hours or days after the occurrence of the event.

A physician diagnosis whiplash by reviewing the individual’s medical history and performing a thorough physical exam. Imaging studies, including x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and bone scans will uncover any nerve or vertebral damage.

Whiplash treatment focuses on allowing the neck to rest and recover from the trauma. A soft cervical collar helps provide support and decreases stress on the injured cervical soft tissue. Medication prescribed for pain and inflammation, such as NSAIDs and muscle relaxants, aid in reducing muscle spasms and controlling pain. Physical therapy, including heat and cold packs and range of motion exercises, will promote a return to full function. Manual manipulation and massage therapy are also beneficial for many individuals. If symptoms persist, epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency neurotomy are available treatment choices to discuss with the physician.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms as a result of a whiplash injury and would like to find out about our available treatment options, please contact our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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