It isn’t always clear what you should do when you think you’re suffering from a whiplash injury. Whiplash is where the head is ‘whipped’ around faster than the neck. The fast and harsh movement of the neck can cause the muscles and tendons to become strained. In many cases, multiple injuries involving both muscles and tendons occur, and when both collide, extreme agony is often unavoidable. Emphasis must be placed on seeking professional medical help as soon as possible – avoid self-diagnosis as this can sometimes result in the wrong treatment causing more long term damage. In some cases, individuals left with symptoms after a 2 year period may still not be fully cured of their injury.
Here are 8 clear steps you should take to put yourself on the road to recovery:
1. Go to the hospital A&E after the injury as soon as possible after the road accident
Whiplash injuries must be taken seriously and it is highly recommended that those who suffer pain following a vehicle accident looks for urgent medical assistance to ensure they give themselves the greatest chance of gaining a complete recovery.
In order to take care of whiplash injuries, it is important to consider the extent of soreness you are suffering. The majority of doctors will wait for at least 7 days after the injury before choosing whether to set up further treatment, such as physiotherapy, and up to that point may treat with medication to treat the pain.
2. Chiropractic care for spinal manipulation
There are different types of treatments which involve massage and manipulation in a comparable manner to typical physio. Examples include Chiropracty, Osteopathy and Acupuncture. Acupuncture will be expensive but many benefit for assisting in healing soft tissue injuries.
3. See a physical therapist for stretches and exercises
Physiotherapy requires stretching, shifting limbs and muscles both involuntarily and voluntarily. A program of treatments is usually carried out. More serious problems will get more rigorous and extended treatment sessions and pain killers will normally be prescribed throughout the physio process.
4. Massage therapy
Massage and manipulation helps to restore function and movement following a whiplash injury. You will probably be given a list of exercises to carry out at home from the physiotherapist after receiving therapy. A massage therapist will be referred from the doctor, as there is little a doctor can do to help except manage pain with medication. Untreated cases of whiplash can extend the problems, so therefore massage to damaged muscles will relieve painful symptoms. You may be able to see a specialist whiplash massage therapist as they will be well versed in treating hundreds of victims.
5. Apply ice to your neck for the first few days
This is the safest way to initially treat an injury that is less than 24 hours old, by closing the small blood vessels and reducing swelling. It can also benefit by calming nerves. Avoid putting ice directly onto the skin – this can cause frostbite – wrap it in cloth first.
6. Switch to moist heat to restore flexibility
After several days, using heat can relax the muscles once the swelling has reduced. Moist heat is the most effective, using hot packs – speak to your therapist about this. Apply for around 30 minutes , but don’t leave on too long and be careful pads aren’t too hot as they can burn the skin.
7. Limit your work for the first few days
Return to normal as pain allows – this can take weeks or more severe cases can be 6 months. Keeping going is important as the muscles need to remain flexible, despite any discomfort. NHS are now advising patients not to use neck supports as they restrict movement. It is important however to rest the neck, and avoid quick movements initially.
8. Take over-the-counter medication for pain relief
Ibuprofen and paracetamol are the best treatments for pain relief, however, for more severe pain the doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller such as codeine.
If your injury has resulted from a road accident then you might be able to make a whiplash compensation claim against the liable party. Such a claim may involve treatment program costs and medication fees. Nevertheless most individuals don’t have that benefit and would need assistance with identifying the most effective approach to support their treatment.