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How to quickly recovery from a whiplash injury

Whiplash can cause you a lot of pain and discomfort if you don't give it attention. The whiplash injury is typically a symptom of car accidents and the severity of the injury depends on the force of the impact, how and where you were seated in the car, and if you were restrained by a shoulder or seat belt. 

Whiplash injury is a cervical spine strain, which results from quick backward and forward thrust of your head and neck. Whether you need immediate medical attention or you can treat the injury at home depends on the severity of the injury. For example, if your head was turned at the time of the accident, your neck injury is likely to be more painful.

Following are some tips, treatment options, and therapies that can help you in treating whiplash injury or reducing the pain at home or under a professional’s supervision.  

Ice and heat method

Even if your neck injury happened one week ago, ice and heat therapy will give you relief. Ice helps in reducing the swollen overstretched muscles and ligaments. On the other heat will increase circulation and eases the tight and stiff muscles.

You can apply an ice pack or heat on the injury for 10 to 15 minutes after every few hours. But, remember to never sleep with an ice or heat pack on you. Besides, if you have sensitive skin you can also wrap ice or heat in a towel and then apply it to your skin.

Rest

Even though it’s good to keep moving and stay active as much as possible, your body also needs some time off. It makes sense to take things easy for the first few days after the accident or when you are treating whiplash injury. If a certain activity or movement increases the neck pain, make sure to avoid or limit that particular motion until your neck has had more time to heal.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

If your doctor agrees then you can try taking some common OTC pain relievers. There are many basic pain relievers available in markets like ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve). They can help block pain receptors and reduce inflammation, giving you relief for the time being.

Prescription medications

If you are suffering from severe pain, you must consult your doctor and get prescription drugs that can help with your specific condition. People with more severe pain are at times given certain antidepressant medications that help relieve nerve pain.

Muscle relaxants

You can also use drugs like muscle relaxants for the short-term. It helps loosen tight muscles and soothe the pain. The use of these medicines can make you feel sleepy. It can help in restoring normal sleeping patterns, in case pain is preventing you from getting a good night's sleep. However, make sure you only take these under a professional’s supervision.

Injections

Depending on how severe the accident or your pain is, an injection, for example, cervical epidural steroid injection, can be effective in targeting a specific body part. It is great for numbing the sensation into the painful muscle areas and they can help reduce the pain so you can continue with your physical therapy or manual manipulation.  

Exercise

For treating whiplash injury your doctor is most likely to prescribe you a series of stretching and movement exercises to do at home. These exercises can be helpful in recovery faster and restoring range of motion back into your neck and get you back to your regular routine and activities.

As an extra precaution, you may want to apply moist heat to the painful areas or take a warm shower before doing the exercises. You might be prescribed exercises like slowly rotating your neck in both directions, bending your neck towards your chest, tilting your head from side to side, and rolling your shoulders.

Physical therapy

If you are suffering from ongoing whiplash pain or require assistance with any exercise, your doctor may recommend you to see a physical therapist. Your physical therapist can guide you with different exercises that help strengthen the muscles, restore normal movement, and improve your posture.

Physical therapy can not only help you feel better but it also helps prevent further injury. The number of therapy sessions you need to feel the difference in your condition varies from person to person. You can also create a personalized exercise routine for yourself to do at home with the help of your physical therapist.

Manual manipulation

A chiropractor or other certified medical professional can help with treating whiplash injury by using his or her hands to make manual adjustments to the spine. These effects often work very well in increasing the range of motion as well as reducing the pain.

Massage therapy

To achieve quick results, massage therapy is great to combine with other treatments like physical therapy or manual manipulation. Getting a massage can help reduce your pain by soothing the muscle tension and spasms and by increasing blood flow.

Acupuncture

Some people seem to benefit from acupuncture as a possible treatment for whiplash injury. It involves strategically placing thin needles in different places in parts of your body depending on the condition being treated. Make sure you consult a licensed acupuncturist to ensure the treatment is safe and causes little to no pain.   

The final thought

Typically whiplash patients recover within 3 months, but the recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the injury and how your body responds to the treatment. However, whiplash injury also run the possibility of the symptoms to become chronic or cause other issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. Hence, it is important to consult a medical professional, so that they can guide you towards the best possible treatment plan for a complete and quick recovery.

These tips and treatment options can help with your recovery and give you some relief from the pain. However, make sure you give yourself and your body the time it needs to fully recover before you get back to your normal lifestyle.