Television comedies and insurance scams may have given it a bad name, but whiplash is absolutely real. Whiplash occurs when sudden force pushes the neck and head backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through lightning-quick motion and extreme stress. Whiplash is most often caused by traffic crashes, but football injuries and falls while skiing can also cause the condition.
The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain, and it can begin immediately, or up to 24 hours after the initial injury. Other symptoms can include:
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Neck instability
- Shoulder or upper back pain
- Tingling or numbness that radiates down the arms into the hands and fingers
Home treatment for whiplash
Although whiplash treatment is often portrayed as wearing a cervical collar, we recommend that, initially, whiplash symptoms can be treated at home with:
- Rest: It’s good to be as active as possible, but avoid any particular motion or activity that causes or worsens pain.
- Ice and/or heat: In the first couple days after injury, applying ice can reduce pain and swelling in the neck. Later, alternate ice and heat.
- Pain reliever:. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be effective.
Whiplash treatment at Neurosurgery One
If symptoms persist, the spine surgeons at Neurosurgery One may be able to offer you treatment options, including:
- Physical therapy
- Pain management options
- Injections: In some cases, an injection is used to target a specific area. Depending on the source of pain, a steroid or cervical facet joint injection may relieve your pain.