Diagnosing Whiplash and Treatments Beyond Physical Therapy
When you hear about whiplash, it may stir up thoughts of clunky soft collar braces, utilized for months on end until the painful condition subsided. Fortunately, this perceived treatment is not the current reality. While a brace can be useful for a few days, facet injections can prove beneficial for those with enduring pain.
What is Whiplash?
When you consider the type of hit the body must sustain in order to feel the effects of whiplash, it makes sense that it has the potential to cause chronic, long lasting pain. Whiplash is the result of cervical acceleration-deceleration, meaning the head is whipped back in forth in a projected, fast manner. The sudden force causes soft-tissue damage, and if symptoms last for more than six months, it’s considered chronic. Symptoms often don’t present for a few days after an accident, but may suddenly appear as stinging sensations in the neck area, and pain and numbness may spread throughout the body. It can be diagnosed with x-rays, an MRI, and/or a CAT scan, according to your doctor’s discretion.
Whiplash is a common injury, affecting about 3 million people each year. Fifty-percent of sufferers end up experiencing chronic pain, which can last for years, which can be managed with facet injections. Whiplash occurs most often as a result of automobile accidents, specifically to those who are rear-ended. It can also be the result of a sports injury, assault, or other type of accident. Women and children are more susceptible to whiplash, due to the size and strength of their necks.
Treatment for Whiplash
Conservative treatments calls for outpatient physical therapy, which can often help mild cases of whiplash in itself. More serious cases may call for hospitalization before further treatment ensues. Additionally, therapies like massage, acupuncture, and medications can soothe the area.
In addition to the above treatment methods, some patients may find further relief with facet injections.
What are Facet Injections?
Facet injections help block the pain by numbing the area, reducing discomfort as your body heals. It doesn’t “fix” the problem itself, but makes the recovery process more bearable, and for chronic sufferers, it can improve quality of life immensely. The outpatient procedure is non-invasive, and low-risk due to the technology that allows your doctor to meticulously guide the injection to the correct location using x-ray. Like all injections, you may experience swelling, bruising, and a small amount of bleeding at the injection site. It’s important to keep the site clean in order to reduce the chance of infection. The treatment can last months, but will need to be repeated until you are fully healed. Each individual responds differently to treatment.
Whiplash is a frustrating reality of living in today’s world. Our fast-paced environment ensures we’re on-the-go often, and with each car ride, we risk getting rear-ended. Luckily, even though more people are texting and driving, technology has also brought us the medical advancements, like facet injections, which reduce the suffering caused by whiplash occasions.
If you or someone you know experience symptoms of whiplash, schedule your consultation today to begin your path to recovery.