FAQ’s on Whiplash
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash occurs in the soft tissues of the neck and is often the result of a sudden acceleration and deceleration of the neck. This motion can put excess strain on the muscles and ligaments of the neck, potentially damaging them and resulting in pain felt by the patient. It is also possible for this damage to alter the function of the neck, reducing a patient’s ability to move their neck and head. While this condition typically results in some level of disability for the patient, it is not a life-threatening ailment.
What causes Whiplash?
Whiplash can result from any action that jerks the neck forcefully enough to move it while the head and body remain still. Even if this movement is only brief, damage can and will occur from it. This sudden movement can shred or strain the tendons, muscles, and ligaments of the neck resulting in the loss of movement and symptoms of pain.
The most common cause of whiplash occurs when the patient is struck from behind while in a seated position, with the primary occurrence being within automobile accidents.
The symptoms of Whiplash
For many whiplash injuries, symptoms will only begin to occur after one or two days have passed. The primary symptoms of whiplash are a loss of movement in the neck coupled with stiffness, and pain felt through the neck and shoulders. Secondary symptoms include tenderness of the area, bruising, and visible discoloration.
In some cases, depending on the severity of the whiplash event, the patient may develop episodic headaches. These are normally the result of a compressed cervical nerve, which can also lead to weakness or numbness felt within the arms. Severe whiplash can potentially damage the cervical discs as well, creating a herniated or bulging disc which can lead to other complications occurring for the patient.
How is Whiplash diagnosed?
When a patient believes they have experienced whiplash, or are exhibiting symptoms similar to the condition, diagnosis can be achieved through collective examination. This involves the physician taking a detailed account of the symptoms present, the events leading up to the symptoms, and the medical history of the patient in order to rule out other possible causes. Once the physician has this information, he or she will be able to determine what diagnostic tests are right that patients unique experience.
Since the symptoms of this condition can vary widely from patient to patient, the exact diagnostic tools used will differ for each patient. There are a few standard tools that will be used for many patients however. These include imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRIs, and a physical check of the area to examine for bruising and tenderness.
Treatment options for Whiplash
Treatments for whiplash care center around providing pain relief for the patient and on returning function and mobility to the neck once more. Treatments are normally conservative for the patient if the whiplash is minor or moderate, with medication provided to help combat inflammation and pain.
Ice applied directly after the incident, and after exercise of the neck, can help to reduce potential swelling from occurring. Bracing will also be used to help provide support to the head and to help prevent further injury to the neck during the recovery period.
Patients who have experienced more severe symptoms, such as damaged cervical tissue or discs, may be required to have more extensive treatments performed. These can include nerve block injections to help provide symptomatic relief from a damaged nerve.
Trigger point injections may help, or medial branch blocks may offer relief. Facet injections serve the same purpose as medial branch blocks, and some Denver pain management doctors prefer one over the other.
If you suffer from symptoms of whiplash and have found ineffective treatment at home, let Colorado Pain help you achieve relief and avoid chronic pan from setting in.
Most insurance is accepted including personal injury liens, and appointments are readily available with the Board Certified Denver pain doctors and chiropractors.
Call (720) 306-9574 for more information and scheduling today!