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How To Treat Whiplash Back Pain

What’s The Treatment For Whiplash

Whiplash Injury | Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Post-whiplash symptoms can worsen over time

Here’s the good news: given time, whiplash should heal on its own. To help with recovery, you should:

  • Ice your neck to reduce pain and swelling as soon as you can after the injury. Do it for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days. Wrap the ice in a thin towel or cloth to prevent injury to the skin.
  • Take painkillers or other drugs, if recommended by your doctor. Medications like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , like ibuprofen or naproxen , will help with pain. However, these medicines can have side effects. Never use them regularly unless your doctor specifically says you should. Check with your doctor before taking them if you take other medicines or have any medical problems. If over the counter medications do not work, prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants may be necessary.
  • Use a neck brace or collar to add support, if your doctor recommends it. However, they are not recommended for long-term use, because they can actually weaken the muscles in your neck.

  • Apply moist heat to your neck — but only after 2-3 days of icing it first. Use heat on your neck only after the initial swelling has gone down. You could use warm, wet towels or take a warm bath.

  • Other treatments, like ultrasound and massage, may also help.

What Should I Avoid When I Have Whiplash

Avoid heavy lifting, punching or pulling, or contact sports like rugby and boxing, until your symptoms improve. Check with your doctor or healthcare professional before you to start these activities again.

Take care when lifting, bending or carrying out repetitive twisting movements. Make sure that you take regular breaks.

Resting, taking time off work or wearing a collar are not likely to help you recover from whiplash. Dont do these without first speaking with your doctor or physiotherapist.

Wearing A Neck Brace For Too Long

A neck brace may give you some support and pain relief and, unlike many other options, actually lets you move your neck. Unfortunately, back braces are a crutch instead of a long term solution. According to the NIH, wearing one, especially one that hasnt been prescribed for you, can cause your neck muscles to start to atrophy.

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How Is A Whiplash Treated

Your healthcare provider will determine specific treatment for whiplash, based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of your injury

  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of your injury

  • Your opinion or preference

  • Ice applications for the first 24 hours

  • Cervical collar

  • Gentle, active movement after 24 hours

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines

  • Muscle relaxing medicines

  • Osteopathic manipulation

How Would You Know That You Have Whiplash

Whiplash Treatment Options

Whiplash symptoms can range from mild to severe, however the mechanism of injury will typically involve a throwing back and forth of the head. If the symptoms above are present, its a good idea to get a medical opinion.

Heres what the doctors will do to determine if your pain is whiplash


The doctor will ask you questions related to your symptoms and any recent event such as a fall or car accident that might be the cause of your pain. Your doctor can derive a lot of information about your pain simply by asking questions in the history taking.


  • Your doctor will examine your neck with palpation of the affected areas.

  • The doctor will ask you to do some movements of your head and neck in order to test the range of motion. These movements include: lateral flexion , rotation , forward flexion, and extension.

  • Next up are orthopaedic tests, which as specific movements that look to aggrevate areas that are effected. Pain on these movements will help highlight the structures that are affected

  • No physical exam is complete without a neurological screen, in which you nerves are tested for responsiveness, sensation, and power.

  • Imaging Tests:

    Although a whiplash injury is not typicallly diagnosed through imaging, your doctor might order tests in order to exclude fractures or any other condition that could be making your pain worse. Below are the typical imaging tests your doctor may order.

  • X-ray: to identify fractures or dislocations

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    Urgent Advice: Ask For An Urgent Gp Appointment Or Call 111 If You Have:

    • severe pain despite taking paracetamol or ibuprofen
    • tingling or pins and needles on one or both sides of your body
    • problems with walking or sitting upright
    • sudden “electric shock” feeling in your neck and back which may also go into your arms and legs
    • your arms or legs feel weak

    These symptoms could be caused by damage to the nerves in your neck or back.

    How Is Whiplash Diagnosed

    In most cases, injuries are to soft tissues such as the discs, muscles and ligaments, and cannot be seen on standard X-rays. Specialized imaging tests, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging , may be required to diagnose damage to the discs, muscles or ligaments that could be causing the symptoms of whiplash.

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    How Do I Know If I Have Whiplash

    Generally, whiplash is medically diagnosed by a physician, particularly after a traumatic event. Diagnosis comes through imaging by xray, MRI, or CT scan.

    However, there are common signs and symptoms that whiplash patients often suffer from, such as:

    • Tenderness along the back of the neck and shoulders.
    • Difficulty flexing, extending, or rotating the head.
    • Muscle spasms in the back and/or front of the neck.
    • Muscle spasms in the back of the shoulders .
    • Jaw tightness or difficulty chewing.
    • Headache, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances or fatigue.
    • Severe cases may also cause vision disturbance and ringing in the ears.

    Physical Therapy For Whiplash

    Whiplash Injury Animation | Everything You Need to Know (Traumatic Brain Injury) due to Whiplash

    Physical therapy for whiplash is also important. Therapists will use passive treatments such as massage and hot/cold therapies for pain relief. Ultrasound is sometimes used to increase blood circulation and reduce spasms, stiffness, cramping, and pain.

    Passive treatments are just the first step, though. Your physical therapist will encourage active exercises as soon as you are ready. These are designed to improve your strength and range of motion and are specific to your own individual case you dont want to follow some other random patients exercise protocol, as every injury is different. Example exercises you might be prescribed include chin tucks or turning the head from side to side to work on your range of motion. Going for a gentle walk can also be helpful. A walk will increase the blood flow to damaged tissues, and the natural rotation of the spine as you swing your arms helps ease you toward recovery faster than spending the day lying on your back.

    If youve been in an accident that involves multiple injuries such as treating low back pain in addition to whiplash a visit to a physical therapist can be invaluable. It should be scheduled as soon as possible.

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    Tips On How To Recover From Whiplash

    Whiplash is a neck injury that usually results from a car accident. It develops when the neck is forcefully moved back and forth, like a whip. However, you can get whiplash from other activities, too, such as sports.

    Fortunately, most cases of whiplash can be addressed using conservative methods, like medication and exercise. Here are some tips to speed up your recovery.

    How Is A Whiplash Diagnosed

    Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, tests for whiplash may include the following. Many whiplash injuries include damage to soft tissue that can’t be seen on X-rays:

    • X-ray. Electromagnetic energy beams produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

    • Magnetic resonance imaging . Large magnets and a computer make detailed images of organs and soft tissue structures in your body.

    • Computed tomography scan. X-rays and computer technology make horizontal, or axial, images of your body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of your body, including your bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

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    What Is Chronic Pain

    Chronic pain can be defined a number of ways. Some use time frame to define chronic pain. For example, pain that has been persistent longer than 12 weeks can be considered chronic. Usually chronic pain is pain that is no longer related to inflammation and related to and injury that has not healed correctly.

    How Does The Pt Health Whiplash Recovery Program Treat Whiplash And Other Neck Strains Or Sprains

    Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash Injuries

    Our Whiplash Recovery Program is geared to manage all musculoskeletal aspects of neck pain and to provide relief. Your pt Health physiotherapist will do a complete analysis. If needed, the physiotherapist will ask you to limit activities that may aggravate or re-injure the neck such as turning the neck a certain way, playing sports, or heavy lifting. They will begin to work on range of motion exercises that will help to restore full function and will prescribe strengthening exercises. These exercises can be done at home to increase function and strength in the injured area. Manual therapy might be used to help with muscle mobilization as well.

    When appropriate, massage therapy may be used to help soften stiff muscles. Painless electrical nerve stimulation may be used to help with pain relief. Acupuncture is also particularly effective for pain management and to stimulate the healing process. Therapeutic ultrasound can also be used to help promote the healing of the soft tissue.

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    Whiplash Symptoms Can Be Extensive

    The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain, which can range anywhere from mild to pins-and-needles tingling to excruciating. Other symptoms can include neck stiffness or reduced range of motion, neck instability, shoulder and/or upper back pain, or headache. There could also be tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates into the shoulder and/or down the arm.

    See How to Treat Stiff Neck After Direct Trauma

    Whiplash symptoms can be numerous, complicated, long-lasting, and hard to diagnose, which is why they are commonly known as whiplash-associated disorders. Concurrent injuries may also be symptomatic, such as a stinger, concussion, radiculopathy , or shoulder injury.

    If a whiplash injury causes a person to have reduced physical or mental abilitieseven if they are just temporaryit can result in increased social isolation.

    How Long Does It Take To Heal From Whiplash

    The time it takes to recover from whiplash depends on the severity of the accident or event that caused the injury. Most people typically start to feel better in about three months or less, Smith says, though some people may develop pain that lasts for years.

    “Whiplash injuries can last a long time, sometimes six months to a year or longer,” Smith says. “They can create long-term disability and severely worsen quality of life in rare circumstances.”

    Your risk of developing chronic pain from whiplash is higher if you have experienced whiplash before or had pre-existing neck pain before your whiplash injury, Ghazal says.

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    Secret #: Remember That Attitude Matters

    Whether you believe in the power of positive thinking or not, there is scientific evidence that backs up the power of your thoughts.

    In a 2013 study, researchers found that the different approaches people used to deal with their whiplash influenced their recovery time. Those who had more passive means of coping, such as withdrawing from social activities, feeling pity for themselves, and wishing for or trying to obtain better pain medication had slower recoveries than those who had positive attitudes and took on feelings of responsibility for their own healing.

    Whiplash Symptoms: How To Ease Them At Home

    Post-whiplash symptoms can worsen over time

    If you have recently been in a car accident or some other sort of accident which whipped you cervical spine like a whip, you are probably suffering from whiplash. Though you are likely under a doctors care for treatment, there are a lot of common whiplash symptoms which can and must be treated at home.

    We will provide 15 home treatments for whiplash in this article, but want to remind you that these are not all-inclusive cures and you need to continue following the course of treatment and advice of a health care professional.

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    Secret #: Consider Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is not typically recommended for those with whiplash, but when you consider that it can reduce both pain and inflammation, it might be something worth thinking about.

    Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese procedure that involves placing very thin needles in special energy points within the muscles to stimulate healing. There are few or no scientific research studies available concerning acupuncture and whiplash, but there are numerous anecdotal reports where patients found relief from pain and stiffness.

    Since acupuncture has virtually no side effects, it might be worth a try if you are having complications or if you are having chronic pain issues that havent subsided.

    Whiplash Symptoms Low Back Pain

    Over the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been done on the problem of whiplash, and most of those studies have focused on the most common symptom of the diagnosis: neck pain. This concentration of research has resulted in a clear understanding of how a rear-end collision can result in injury.

    Shear forces occur when one part of thespine moves in one direction while anotherpart of the spine moves in a different direction.

    Shear forces can cause tearing or stretchingof the soft tissues that hold the spine together.

    The primary reason why rear-end collisions cause injury is that the human spine is designed to withstand vertical forces, while a rear-end collision is a horizontal force. The vertical forces are known as axial forces. The horizontal forces, known as shear forces, cause unnatural movements of the cervical spine and can result in damage to the ligaments of the neck.

    A new study has now shown that a similar injury mechanism occurs in the lumbar spine as well. Inspired by the research on the cervical spine, the authors of this study applied the same methodology to the low back.

    The anterior shear strains had mostly a biphasic response. Spinal strains started at about 30 msec after impact and peaked at the T12 vertebra at approximately 120 and 370 msec, whereas in the L4 vertebra, it peaked at 200 and 380 msec. The anterior strain patterns of the L4 and T12 vertebrae were in diametrically opposite directions.

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    Levator Release With A Ball Reduce Muscle Tone

    People who have chronic neck pain after a whiplash injury will often complain of tightness in the area where the shoulder and the neck meet. The levator scapulae is a common spot of tension. Levator release with a ball is a nice way to work on relieving tension in the neck and shoulders. You may want a towel roll under your head.

    The exercises highlighted in this post should feel helpful. If you are having pain with them, stop.

    What Is Whiplash And How Do You Get It

    Signs You Might Have a Whiplash Injury â SAPNA: Spine and Pain Clinic ...

    Whiplash is the name commonly given to a neck strain/sprain injury that occurs as a result of a traumatic event. The most frequent cause of whiplash is a motor vehicle accident. Because the degree of neck injury is not necessarily related to the speed that the vehicle was travelling when the accident occurred, even minor fender benders can produce enough energy to cause whiplash in occupants even if they are wearing seatbelts.

    Whiplash can also occur from contact sports injuries and other blows to the head. When the neck is strained due to a sudden change in direction such as in roller coasters, minor bicycle accidents, or slips and falls whiplash can occur.

    Other common causes of whiplash and neck strain are repetitive stress injuries or chronic neck strain think of how often you use your neck to hold the phone!

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    Should You See A Doctor

    While whiplash often resolves itself within a couple of weeks, it is important to see a doctor following any traumatic injury resulting in whiplash symptoms, as there may be fractures or other damage that could progress to greater problems. In some people, the pain can continue for months or even years. The risk factors for a more difficult recovery include older patients, patients with previously existing neck pain or low back pain, patients who have experienced whiplash before, and those involved in more high-speed injuries.

    Remedies For Whiplash Pain You Can Try At Home

    More than half of the 3 million or so new whiplash cases that occur in the United States each year involve chronic pain, meaning discomfort lingers for 4-6 months or more. While often associated with car accidents, whiplash injuries can happen as a result of any sudden backward-forward motion affecting the neck area, which could include a hard impact while playing sports or any action that causes sudden, forceful neck movements. If whiplash-related symptoms are mild or minor, the trusted Santa Monica spine surgeons at The Spine Institute suggest trying one or more of the following home remedies.

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    Should I Wear A Neck Brace

    Most people feel comforted by the idea of neck support such as a soft collar after a neck injury, but evidence shows that soft collars/braces can be less effective than learning how to stabilize your neck using your muscles with exercises and physical therapy. Therefore, Neck braces arenât usually recommended.


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