Car accidents aren’t the sole cause of whiplash injuries (although they have the distinction of being a leader for producing this type of injury). Whiplash can be caused by any impact which results in a rapid thrusting of the head forward and then back. Because the adult human head generally weighs between 10 and 13 pounds, whiplash produces trauma in the soft tissue of the neck, shoulders and upper back.
But the problem with whiplash is that symptoms may not manifest immediately. It can take weeks for them to show up, causing pain and tightness in the neck, radiating out to the shoulders and sometimes producing pain in the arms muscles. These symptoms may produce pain as far down the arm as the hands.
For whiplash injuries incurred in a motor vehicle impact, it’s important to know that a seatbelt can mitigate the outfall of impact, sparing you more serious injury. But if your head was turned to the side at impact (regardless of whether your injury occurred during a car collision or not), the injury will be more severe.
Treating Neck Pain from Whiplash Injuries at Home
If you’re experiencing neck and shoulder pain, you can get the healing process started at home. It’s sometimes the case that symptoms will resolve entirely with self-care. All the same, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor to ensure that all is well with your cervical vertebrae and to get a clean bill of health. Following are some useful tips for treating yourself at home:
Heat/cold – Once an hour, apply a cold pack to the affected area for 15 minutes, remembering to wrap your cold pack in a towel to protect your skin. Every 2 or 3 hours, apply heat for the same amount of time, exercising the same caution as you do with the cold source.
Any commercial products you purchase for this purpose should be discarded if punctured. Finally – never sleep with these items!
OOC meds – Over the counter anti-inflammatories can be helpful, but never exceed the maximum dosage of these per day (3200 milligrams).
Movement – Gentle movement like shoulder and head rotations are highly recommended while healing. Mobilizing these areas will help you recover more quickly.
Rest – Working at a computer can make matters worse, so be sure to take frequent breaks to stretch and to observe a correct sitting posture.
Visit Your Doctor
We’ve already noted this but we’re saying it again. It’s important that you be examined to ensure there’s no serious damage.
Symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, persistent headaches or ringing in your ears indicate that you require medical attention. While these self-care strategies will help, getting the “all clear” from your primary care giver provides peace of mind and assures that you won’t be experiencing long term difficulties as the result of your whiplash.
Spine Care NJ
Spine Care NJ is a medical resource addressing all conditions of the spine. If you’ve had a whiplash injury, our facility offers therapies ranging from conservative to surgical. Contact us for more information.