Whiplash: Diagnosis, Care and Treatment

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Whiplash is a comparatively minor injury resulting in ongoing back, neck, or shoulder pain. At times, the injury can become chronic if left untreated. In order to figure out the right intensity of pain, visiting a doctor will help. Unfortunately, if you are involved in a car accident, one of the most common conditions you may experience is whiplash. In a head-on collision, you may suffer from a critical neck injury or even a neck fracture. Though make sure not to confuse it with whiplash since the neck pain can be severe. A detailed physical examination and diagnosis will help you figure out the condition.

How long does whiplash last?

In many cases, the neck pain goes away in a week or two. However, the severe cases can last up to 3 months or even more. It is found that several people experience constant neck pain after a year. Here are a few symptoms you shouldn’t overlook:

  • Pain develops immediately post-accident
  • Experiencing intense pain right from the beginning
  • Neurological indications such as memory loss
  • Extreme pain in the fingers and arms

If you are experiencing severe pain after the initial injury that means the acute short-term neck pain may eventually develop into chronic pain.

Whiplash Diagnosis

Your medical evaluation will begin following the comprehensive physical examination. Primarily depending on your results, a doctor may undertake X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests will precisely figure out the injury. Once the diagnosis is complete, the doctor will recommend the best-suited recovery and treatment program.

Long-Term Effects of Whiplash

As mentioned above, the whiplash condition may last up to months or even a year. Once it becomes chronic, it will affect your routine activities in the worst way. It is found that 2% of whiplash cases result in permanent disability. While you may recover from the condition within few days, remember it may not always happen. If the condition is prolonged, chances are you will experience muscle spasms and headaches. It is important to prevent these symptoms in the long term and visiting accident doctors in Atlanta will give you a better understanding of how the injury can impact your life and what needs to be done.

How About Whiplash Injury Claim

While taking good care of your health, you might be thinking of the financial expenses. If you are suffering from this condition because of someone else’s fault, you absolutely deserve fair compensation. You have the right to cover these expenses and make a claim for the whiplash injury compensation. If you are suffering from a major injury, the compensation money will help you cover the expenses of ongoing medical treatment. For this purpose, it is important to keep a detailed medical record and everything well-documented as solid evidence.

Whiplash Care & Treatment

When experiencing whiplash, there are many ways to improve your body’s natural healing and treatment process to ease the worst symptoms. The treatment options commonly depend on the severity of the injury.

  • Actively partake in physical therapy sessions
  • Application of ice or heat on shoulders and neck
  • Intake of muscle relaxants can help in easing pain and recover the sleep patterns
  • Over-the-counter medication or drugs to relieve inflammation or pain

Depending on your condition, we recommend you to use non-traditional treatments such as chiropractic care or massage therapy. Chiropractic care can even be used in treating small children. We suggest you learn more about its benefits. Many people have found a positive influence and pain relief on their health with the natural treatment options available. Besides, there are other invasive treatments such as numbing injections considered powerful prescription pain relievers.

Exercise Your Neck

It’s important to normally move your neck. Initially, you may feel some pain and you are more likely to take enough rest. Gentle exercise the neck will help you recover from the condition in the best possible way. Make sure your neck does not get stiff. Slowly increase the required range of neck movements. You need to move your neck in all possible directions after every few hours. Make it a routine practice so you can get back to normal activities. Be very careful!


If the pain is not settling, your doctor is more likely to recommend physiotherapy including a variety of treatments. These commonly include manipulation, traction, heat, and much more. You will be suggested the most suitable exercises that can be performed both at home and clinic. The doctor will further recommend you gentle neck exercises and painkillers. The treatment varies from one individual to another depending on the following conditions:

  • If the pain becomes chronic
  • If the pain continues and lasts up to six weeks
  • If you are experiencing other associated symptoms such as numbness, constant pins and needles, and weakness. In this condition, you will feel intense pressure or irritation on the nerve from the spinal cord.

You can try other pain-relieving techniques if the pain becomes chronic. Keep in mind chronic neck pain is often associated with depression or anxiety which needs to be treated as soon as possible. A whiplash doctor will evaluate the severity of the injury and recommend treatments accordingly for a quick and effective recovery. Most whiplash cases do not require any surgery and can be recovered through other self-care and home treatment practices. These commonly include icing or heating on the neck and injured area, use of neck braces, deep massage therapy, medication, etc.

For improved results and quick recovery, consulting a chiropractic doctor can considerably help in treating the whiplash pain and other injuries. They make sure to carefully realign the body through a sequence of chiropractic sessions to get back your body in a natural position. When an unfortunate injury hits you, your body is more likely to be misaligned, and therefore returning the required range of motion is important. This helps in reducing the symptoms of the condition throughout the treatment and healing process. On the other hand, the most severe whiplash cases may require interventional or orthopedic spine surgery to realign the neck, spine, and other relevant injuries such as a herniated disc. Some other treatment options include:

  • Keep in mind a good posture can help. Try to sit upright and work on your posture. Alexander, Yoga, and Pilates techniques can help in improving your neck posture and treat the uncertain pain.
  • If you have any issues with the sleep patterns, a firm supporting pillow may encourage quality sleep. Though not use more than one pillow or else you might feel more pain and stiffness in the body.

Wrapping Up

If you are experiencing pain or tightening in your shoulders or neck following an unfortunate accident, it is primarily because the head abruptly moves forward and backward. If you have read this far, you are more likely to better understand the condition – what causes whiplash, how long it last, diagnosis and treatment, and much more. At the end of the day, all you need to do is consulting a doctor to get a physical examination and treatment right on time. It is important to prevent your symptoms from becoming chronic or else you may require surgery. For any queries related to whiplash and associated symptoms or treatment, write to us in the comment section below.

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