• Dr. Mark Freund

Whiplash from Car Accident: Treatments to Relieve Pain and Discomfort

Updated: Jun 2


whiplash after a car accident

Whiplash from a car accident is a common injury most people take for granted despite the pain and discomfort which can be relieved with these simple treatments.


Whiplash from Car Accident

Whiplash from an auto accident injury is a neck injury that occurs when the head and neck are pushed back and forth in rapid motion that is commonly caused by a car accident or a collision. Neck pain is one of the most common symptoms that people have after a car accident and is usually described as a sprain or a neck strain and can include other types of neck injury.

Symptoms

Whiplash can result from a traumatic accident, such as a car accident or a vehicle accident, and it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasm, neck pain, and even vision problems. Some people have persistent pain and whiplash symptoms for several months or even years after the injury, while others do not. Although whiplash is common, it is often ignored, poorly treated, or not treated at all.

whiplash symptoms

Some people have very mild symptoms, while others have excruciating pain. These symptoms may occur immediately after an accident, but there are times when they may not occur for several days. If you have pain or other symptoms after a traumatic accident, you should consult your doctor or your chiropractor. Never assume that your injuries are minor or can recede by themselves. You may think that your neck pain is mild, but unfortunately, the pain could be due to a combination of the impact and a number of other factors, which at worst can be due to a broken bone in your neck or a skull fracture.

Many people do not go to the doctor after a car accident, ignoring that their head and neck are relatively unstable after an impact test. It is still vital, however, that you see a chiropractor and/or a primary care physician to prevent serious injuries and complications that may not manifest right away.

Treatments

Most people with a whiplash injury recover after a treatment plan that may include natural pain relief practices and exercise. Whiplash is a real condition that requires medical attention and treatment to achieve the best cure. If you do not receive the right treatments for this condition, you increase your risk of having long-term pain and symptoms. Read on to see why you should undergo a medical examination for this type of injury or neck pain after a traumatic accident. The aim of the treatment is to minimize pain and restore normal movement in the neck. The treatment plan depends on how serious your whiplash injury is as well as your age and physical condition. Below are common treatments and natural remedies that your chiropractor may recommend to treat this injury.

Apply Hot and Cold Therapy

You may want to apply an ice or heat pack in alternating patterns to the injured area and do simple exercises to build strength and flexibility in the neck. By using a heat pack on your neck, you allow heat to help relieve painful, tense tissue in the neck. Heat is best used to relieve mild to moderate symptoms. Placing an ice pack on your neck and leaving it for a few hours can also help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation for a few hours.

Use a Foam Collar

Wearing a foam collar can help keep the neck stable and in a natural healing position. Learn relaxation techniques to protect the neck muscles from overload to help you recover quicker. In the past, it was common medical advice to treat whiplash by wearing a collar and resting the neck. Now people seek chiropractic therapies and other alternative remedies for pain management, such as physical therapy, manual therapy, acupuncture, and manual therapy to better reduce pain and muscle stiffness.

paramedic placing a foam collar on man

Rest for a Few Days

If you have neck pain, tenderness, or difficulty with movement, it is normal to want to rest for several days. However, it is highly recommended that you rest for the first few days only after you have gone through an injury because there are potential issues in resting too long. Studies have shown that prolonged immobilization can lead to increased pain and the risk of developing long-term pain symptoms.

Gentle Exercises

To prevent your neck muscles from becoming stiff and weak, start with gentle movements. Exercises can include tilting the neck side to the side, moving it up or down, or rolling the shoulders. Current medical advice involves starting as early as possible with gentle exercise. Early exercise is associated with a reduction in the risk of long-term pain symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Your physiotherapist or chiropractor can also teach you gentle stretches, movements, and exercises so you can move without too much pain.

Physical Therapy

physical therapy for whiplash

Your chiropractor or doctor may also recommend physical therapy to treat your neck pain once you start healing or get enough rest. Your therapist will work with you to strengthen your neck muscles and to restore your full range of movement. In addition to medication, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery. Treatment programs carried out by a trained physiotherapist or qualified health professional can help improve the strength and mobility of the neck, which in some cases can reduce the strain on the spine and reduce pain. To recover fully, it is important to follow your doctor's recommendations for exercise and activity. If you return to normal activity too quickly, you run the risk of further injury.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves thin needles inserted into various strategic parts of the body, depending on the condition treated. The treatment is performed by a licensed acupuncturist; it is safe, painless and many patients report positive results from this treatment.

Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractors and other certified doctors typically use their hands to make manual adjustments to the spine to increase range of motion and reduce pain.

This procedure targets certain nerves to produce lesions that prevent the joint from sending pain signals to the brain. This treatment involves various manual therapy techniques that help relieve pain by relieving muscle tension and cramps and increasing blood flow. This treatment can be combined with other treatments such as acupuncture.

Complications

After a whiplash injury, most people recover from the injury in a few days to several weeks, usually without long-term complications. Fortunately, the majority of people recover completely without chronic symptoms. However, a small number of people have long-term complications from whiplash.

Chronic pain due to a whip injury does not always have an easily identifiable medical explanation, but doctors will assess you to see if the pain is attributed to a damaged neck joint, a broken bone in the neck, or an injury to the spinal cord. Some people with whiplash still suffer from chronic pain and headaches years or decades after the accident though it is rare. Those who are at greater risk of long-term effects of whiplash are often older or have preexisting pain symptoms. Long-term effects can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, muscle pain, and lower back and neck pain.


Visit a Chiropractor

Because whiplash outcomes vary widely from person to person, patients should check with their physician and chiropractor to find the right treatment plan for their recovery. If you have had a car accident resulting in neck pain, it is recommended to see a doctor with the knowledge and expertise to make the diagnosis and treat this condition.


Seeking proper care for your back pain or neck pain after a car accident can help you avoid a serious impact on your health, which may otherwise lead to months or even years of chronic pain. Our chiropractors at Natural Care Chiropractic have substantial experience treating auto accident injury patients. They can identify the type of injury you have sustained and recommend the best natural treatments available for your case.


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