Whiplash and Pain Management – What Do I Do Next?
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash, neck sprain or strain, is an injury to the neck. It mostly occurs due to acceleration or deceleration force that leads to unrestrained, forward and backward movement of the neck and head, which result from a motor accidents. As a result, the intervertebral joints (found between the vertebrae), cervical muscles, discs and ligaments, and nerve roots may become damaged.
Normally, whiplash is not considered a life-threatening injury, but it may result in prolonged periods of partial disability. While many of those involved in minor car accidents recover quite quickly without complications, some may continue experiencing symptoms for some years after the injury.
What are the Causes of Whiplash?
The main cause of whiplash is motor vehicle accidents. It usually occurs where the person who is in the car that is not moving is struck by another vehicle from behind. During the collision, the neck muscles are usually relaxed, the impact jerks the neck back and forth as the seat pushes the person forward, exceeding the standard motion of the neck. This form of movement leaves a severe strain on the neck muscles which results in a painful whiplash.
For those in sports and athletics, they may experience whiplash symptoms as a result of the impact from other players. Research have shown that women are more likely to experience whiplash as compared to men. The main risk factor is body mass and weight as they may be a task to control thus subject to whiplash.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
The most common symptoms associated with whiplash may be delayed for approximately 24 hrs. or more once the initial trauma occurs. The most common ones are pain in the neck muscles. It may be accompanied by a burning and inflamed sensation which may arise once the injury occurs. Other symptoms include;
- Blurry vision
- Headaches mostly along the base of the skull
- Low back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm/hand
- Stiffness in the neck
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritation, fatigue and sleep disturbances
In severe cases of whiplash, the patient may experience a ringing sensation in the ears, irritability, and difficulty focusing and remembering small things. In the event of memory loss, it means that the symptoms are severe. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention right away in case you suspect such severe conditions.
What is Whiplash Diagnosed?
The importance of a diagnostic test is to rule out other problems associated with whiplash. After an accident, the patient may be taken to the hospital, and the doctor will examine the patient to determine if there are any injuries that need treatment.
The tests will include X-rays to identify the specific areas where there is a fracture, dislocation or any other problem. A CT scan can be recommended to determine the damage to the tissues or bones. This may be done together with an x-ray to get a clear view of the neck and cervical spine. The most important thing is to ensure there is no major injury to the head, neck, or the rest of the body which may require immediate treatment.
The treatment options for whiplash depends on the wide variety of the symptoms present. It involves a combination of different treatment options such as injections, medications, spinal manipulations, physical therapy and strengthening exercises. The most recommended is the narcotic medication that may be necessary to control the pain.
Educating the patients about the injury is also an important issue in the management of whiplash. A research carried out at the American Academy of Pain Management have shown that pulsed radiofrequency ablation for whiplash has shown excellent outcomes in terms of pain relief. Other pain treatment methods consist of facet injections, trigger point injections, and medical branch blocks.
The top pain management doctors in Chicago for whiplash are with Premier Pain & Spine. The Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Chicago pain doctors at the practice offer both medication management and interventional procedures. Success rates for patients who have sustained whiplash injuries are impressive.
Most insurance is accepted, and the practice has 8 locations in the Chicago metro area. Call (847) 519-4701 today!