03 Apr CHRONIC PAIN FROM WHIPLASH DUE TO AUTO ACCIDENTS
An injury to the neck, also known as neck strain or neck sprain, is generally referred to as whiplash. This condition occurs when sudden forced movement of the head occurs in one direction, and then, the neck gets snapped into the other direction forcefully. It is most common when you are in a moving car which gets hit from behind. A sports injury or a fall can also cause whiplash to happen. However, this occurs only in rare cases. If you are shaken violently, then this too can cause whiplash to occur.
Whiplash injury is caused when the neck is forced to move beyond its normal range quite suddenly. What follows will be pain and stiffness in the neck after the impact. This motion will cause either stretching, or in more severe cases, tears or sprains of the ligaments and the muscles that are in the neck. The nerves can get damaged with whiplash and with excessive force fractures can be seen.
Cause and Symptoms
The main cause of whiplash, in most cases, is an abrupt jerking of the head while in motion, either backwards or forwards. It is often a direct result of a car accident. The symptoms may not be immediately prevalent following the sudden jerking motion.
They may even occur up to 24 hours or more after the initial accident has taken place. The symptoms that can develop in people following a neck injury in the first few days include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Sleep disturbances
- Low back pain
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Shoulder pain
- Concentration or memory difficulties
Diagnosis and Treatment
Standard X-rays are sometimes unable to show the whiplash injuries that occur to the muscles, ligaments, and the discs. Imaging scans which are of a specialized type, such as computed tomography (CT) scans or MRI (which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging), may be able to diagnose whiplash.
Medications which provide relief from whiplash pain such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or clinoril can help, although there is no treatment that has been proven to be the most effective cure for whiplash. Additional treatments which can be applied in conjunction are injections, ultrasound, heat, traction, physical therapy, and gentle exercises can be beneficial to a number of the patients.
With whiplash, cervical collars have been used to immobilize the neck in the past as a treatment for these whiplash injuries. The trend now, however, is moving towards the encouragement of early movement of the injured area. The first 24 hours should be treated with ice as this is the most recommended, gentle movement should follow.
It is vital when whiplash is present to receive treatment as soon as possible. This can prevent the acute pain from becoming chronic. Treatment with the Board Certified Chicago pain management doctors at Premier Pain & Spine may consist of:
- Pain Medications
- Trigger Point Injections
- Facet or medial branch block injections
- Topical pain creams