Whiplash injuries typically heal on its own with or even without medical treatment. There are circumstances, however, when symptoms of whiplash can be debilitating, severe, and long-lasting. In such cases, professional assistance must be sought to know which treatment plan is best for the patient.
Treatment plans usually depend on the whiplash symptoms present and the severity of the damage. When the injury is found to be associated with the spine, physical therapy and sometimes, surgical intervention may be necessary. Meanwhile, treatment of soft tissue injuries is focused on relief from pain and be self-medicated.
Both medical and self-care treatments such as the following are conducted to reduce discomfort and hasten recovery from whiplash.
Neck pain and stiffness are top complaints in whiplash injury. Due to this, there is a limited range of motion of the neck. However, resting the neck for a long period of time and keeping it immobile may complicate the damage and may delay the recovery further. Immobilization leads to a decrease in blood flow and muscle atrophy or weakening of the neck muscles. This is also the reason why wearing of soft collars or neck braces is not anymore suggested.
Studies also found that patients who engaged in simple neck exercises during the early onset of whiplash, experienced faster relief from pain and recovered from the condition more rapidly than those who did not.
Analgesics are often prescribed to alleviate pain due to a whiplash injury. The type of analgesic recommended depends on the intensity of the pain felt. For mild to moderate pain in the neck, Paracetamol is a good option. On the other hand, Codeine, a stronger painkiller, is given to patients who suffer from severe pain.
To lessen neck soreness, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen, may be taken. However, those with stomach ulcer or had a history of such should be cautious when taking Ibuprofen drugs. The same is true for those with diseases of the heart and the liver.
A patient who has persistent symptoms of whiplash for several weeks may undergo physiotherapy. In physiotherapies, massage, manipulation, and other physical practices are conducted to reinvigorate muscle function and speed up recovery. Such techniques also aids in the restoration of movement after a whiplash injury.
Besides the abovementioned treatments, there are self-care measures that can also contribute to the prevention of prolonged symptoms of whiplash.
During the first two to three days of neck inflammation, cold compress can be applied. This may help minimize soreness and neck aches.
Also, whether or not one has a whiplash injury, maintaining a good posture when standing, walking, and sitting, is very important. Moreover, for some whiplash victims, using a supportive pillow and a steady mattress helped ease neck pain and facilitated better sleep.
Finally, relaxation routines and exercises such as yoga can be performed because they improve muscle strength by preventing tension and stress.
These treatment plans are generally recommended to whiplash patients. However, there is little scientific evidence that demonstrates which treatments are best and most effective in treating whiplash injury. Prevention is truly a way better than any remedy, medication, or therapy.