5 Common Treatment Modalities for Whiplash Injuries

Treatment modalities for whiplash range based on the severity of the injury, the amount of pain, and the risk factors of the individual. The treatment options for this condition may be over-the-counter or self-care treatments in minor cases. In this case, the options may include prescription pain medications and massaging the area. However, other individuals have more intense pain or lasting injuries due to repetitive strain or a serious injury.

Common Treatments for Whiplash

The following is a list of some common methods for treating whiplash in patients of various severities. Doctors must determine the best course of treatment based on the patient’s particular needs.

Medications

Medication is a common first step. When over-the-counter products are not effective, the doctor may assign prescription painkillers instead. These provide short-term relief to the patient. Injections are another option. The injection of lidocaine is the most common option. This reduces the muscle spasms occurring. Additionally, treatment using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, is also an option.

Physiotherapy

Another option may be the use of physiotherapy. This is especially effective when symptoms of whiplash continue over several weeks. This includes using a range of physical techniques to improve the condition, including manipulation and massage. This can help to restore range of motion. The use of exercises that improve the range of motion may be necessary to build strength in the affected area.

Use of Foam Collars

In some situations, doctors will use foam collars for treatment. However, this is only an option for a short period of time. While once a popular treatment option for this condition, it is no longer used readily for long-term care. The reason for this is that immobilizing the neck for a long period of time can cause a reduction in muscle size. This reduces the amount of strength of these muscles and can, in time, impair recovery. The use of a collar for periods no longer than three hours at a time is recommended. This is only a recommendation for the first few days after the injury occurs. This option is ideal for those who struggle to sleep at night due to the pain, but it should not be used regularly.

Ice and Heat

During the first few days after the whiplash injury, it may be advised to use an alternative application of heat and ice. This can help to reduce the inflammation of the muscle tissue. Icing for two to four hours and then heating for two to four hours at a time can help to loosen muscles to make it easier for the muscle to heal. This is often done alongside the use of physical therapy.

Surgery

Doctors generally will ultrasound the area to determine the extent of damage. In rare cases, it is possible that patients will need surgery. Surgical intervention is often the last resort for those with chronic pain. This type of pain will indicate a tear in the intervertebral disc. In some cases, removal of the disc is necessary to reduce the pain.

Surgical options include:

  • Discectomy – The removal of the intervertebral disc, either partial or entirely
  • Percutaneous – Removal through a small incision located on the back.
  • Microdiscectomy – The use of a microscope to magnify the field during the removal process

In most situations, the best treat of whiplash is to keep the area mobile and to extend physical therapy as needed. This will encourage healing and reduces the risks of pain in the long term.

Other forms include:

  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Massage therapy
Unfortunately, whiplash has a bad connotation to it often associated with being a minor injury.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you have neck pain of any kind after a car accident, contact us at http://mapleridgelaw.wpengine.com to discover what we do.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whiplash/DS01037/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

Spine Clinic:

http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/whiplash/whiplash-treatment-recovery