Whiplash injury commonly happens if a person is in a motor vehicle and is struck by another motor vehicle. Whiplash can happen at speeds of down to 15 miles per hour and can happen whether or not you have an airbag or are wearing a seatbelt properly. It can also happen in games like football, when unexpected tackles happen, in falls that cause a flexion extension injury to the neck, or, in the case of young children, in situations of shaken baby syndrome when the baby is shaken back and forth by the shoulders or trunk. Our whiplash injury compensation solicitors offer free advice and the no win no fee scheme.
Whiplash injuries are generally painful and people often have posterior neck pain and sometimes anterior neck pain (in the strap muscles of the neck). You can get a headache, dizziness, vertigo (spinning dizziness), shooting pains that travel from the top of the neck to the arms, shoulders or back, or shooting numbness in the same areas. The range of motion of the neck is limited and you often can’t bend your neck completely in the forward, backward, tilted or twisted direction. If you are suffering from this injury which was caused by the negligence of a third party, you need to speak to whiplash injury compensation solicitors.
It is when these symptoms are severe or when they last longer than a couple of weeks that you need to seek some expert medical advice and treatment for your symptoms followed by advice from a whiplash compensation solicitor. The medical experts to consider include massage therapists, physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists or chiropractors.
These professionals will re-examine you to see the extent of your injuries. They will check the areas of tenderness you have, the stiffness of the muscles, the range of motion of your neck in all directions, your peripheral strength, your peripheral sensation and your deep tendon reflexes. All of these examinations will tell the practitioner how severe your condition is and what the major trouble areas are. The examination will tell the practitioner how to proceed with your treatment plan.
A physiatrist is a doctor that specializes in how people move, especially following an injury or illness. He usually has the physical therapist do the work of treating whiplash but, in serious cases, he or she might do hydrocortisone injections into tender spots in the muscles or ligaments. The rest of the practitioners do not have the medical training to do this kind of medical treatment.
The physical therapist generally does most of the work in treating a whiplash injury. He or she can do hand massage or can use electrotherapy to massage the muscles to make them more supple and less tightened than before. He or she can also work on passive range of motion, which is motion of the neck that is initiated and completed by the therapist. Active range of motion is also an option, which teaches you to move the muscles of your neck on your own. These things help you to be able to function at work, home and school. Deep pressure point work involves using the thumb or other fingers to push on a particularly tight bit of muscle. The pressure is held until the tension in the muscle releases and this tension usually doesn’t come back right away.
Heat can be used to relieve the muscle tension and can be used at home as well. Ice is usually reserved for the first couple of days of treatment. Ice is applied with a towel in between the ice and the skin in order to protect the skin. This is done for 20 minutes out of an hour and repeated for up to two days. After that, ice and heat can be alternated in order to provide muscle tension relief and relief of inflammation.
The doctor may prescribe narcotic pain medication, muscle relaxants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Tylenol and narcotics can be used together with the NSAID medications, including naproxen and ibuprofen but the naproxen and ibuprofen cannot be used together.
You may be seen by an occupational medical specialist as well. Occupational therapists work to help patients find ways to move around and get things done in the house in spite of your injuries. They may help you learn how to dress yourself so you don’t aggravate your injury. They may fit you with a soft cervical collar for you to use when it becomes hard to keep your head up without help. They are often helpful with the practical ways of living with whiplash.
Chiropractors do a good job of treating whiplash injuries but they do so with a different philosophy of many of the other practitioners. They tend to have a strong belief in the alignment of the spine as being the problem and treatment of injuries like whiplash injuries. For this reason, they often take specific spine x-rays to check the rotational aspects and forward/backward alignment of the spine. They also tend to do some of the same things as a physical therapist, focusing on massage and pressure point work of the muscles, heat and cold treatment of the soft tissue and helping the patient improve their neck strength as well as the range of motion of the neck.
What they do that is different from other practitioners is do adjustments on the spine itself. These can be large or small adjustments that are designed to straighten the spine so that the nerves exiting the spinous processes can do so freely and without impingement. In many cases, there actually are small “subluxations” of the spine that, when fixed, will improve the outcome of whiplash injuries.
Mild cases of whiplash can be treated at home. You can wrap a thick towel around your neck and use it to brace your neck so you don’t have to use so much muscle to keep your head up. You can use ice in the first day or so. You take a bag of peas or other improvised ice pack and leave it on the neck for twenty minutes out of an hour. You get to repeat this every hour through the night, if possible and then you can switch to ice and heat combinations, which will address inflammation.