Whiplash causes variety of symptomsDear Doctor Miller: What is whiplash and what is the treatment for the condition?
By: Dr. Carl Miller/Lake Superior Chiropractic, Superior Telegram
Dear Doctor Miller:
What is whiplash and what is the treatment for the condition?
Chiropractic Care defines whiplash as “injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head, backward, forward or sideways …” These injuries can be caused by a variety of incidents, but not exclusive to sports, work accidents, car accidents, physical abuse, etc. Symptoms typically show up from two hours to two days after the accident, but in some cases, they may take years to develop. Even though it is not life threatening, whiplash injuries can lead to a period of disability, and this, in turn can lead to economic costs. According to Medicine Net.com, these costs include sick leave, medical care, loss of productivity and disability. Whiplash is a serious condition and must be treated as such.
Whiplash injuries are common and in most cases occur in the soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments and disks, and because of this, they do not show up on standard x-rays. In the past, whiplash injuries were difficult to document and prove but now we have imaging devices that can show us soft tissue injuries. Because of this, people suffering from this condition are taken more seriously than they were in the past. These injuries are often result of basic symptoms, which, according to Chiropractic Care, can include neck pain or stiffness, blurred vision, difficult swallowing, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, pain between the shoulder blades, in the shoulder, arms, legs, feet or hands, low back pain or stiffness, nausea, ringing in the ears, vertigo, numbness and tingling, and jaw or face pain.
MayoClinic.cm recommends that if you are seeking treatment for possible whiplash injuries, you should make a list that includes a description of both the event that caused your injuries and your symptoms, any past medical problems that you may have, and a list of all of your current medications. Also, make a list of questions you may have to bring when you seek treatment. Treatments for whiplash injuries vary based on the symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with whiplash, you may be encouraged to remain active. According to the American Chiropractic Association, if the patient has not incurred a serious injury that requires immobilization, he or she will be encouraged to continue to engage in a reasonable amount of physical activity. This should only begin after your pain is under control. Your health care provider may even recommend specific exercises that will probably include stretching. If a routine of exercise and stretching is prescribed for you, it is important to follow it exactly as prescribed in order to reap the health benefits. Some victims of whiplash injuries experience muscle spasms. Ice or heat can often sere the dual purpose of easing these muscle spasms while they reduce the pain. Ice is especially helpful in the early stages of the recovery period because it helps to reduce inflammation. Before beginning your exercise program, you can apply heat to help your muscles to relax. Spinal manipulation has also been shown to give patients relief. People with severe pain may need prescription painkillers or muscle relaxants. Ultrasound has also been helpful in some cases. Physical therapy has also helped patients improve.
According to Whiplash: All — MayoClinic.com, foam cervical collars, once commonly used for relief of whiplash injuries, are no longer routinely recommended. Decreased muscle bulk and strength can result of immobilizing the neck for long periods and this can actually impair recovery. If you do need to wear one, it should only be used for a few days after your injury and never for more than three hours a day, but you may need to wear one of these collars at night if you are continually awakened by whiplash pain. A cervical collar may help you to sleep, especially in the days immediately following your injury.
As you can see, whiplash involves a variety of symptoms and a variety of treatments based on individual symptoms the patient is experiencing. If you believe you are suffering from whiplash, seek help from your health care provider as soon as possible.
This column is written by Dr. Carl Miller of Lake Superior Chiropractic. Send your comments or questions to him at 2121 E. Fifth St., Superior WI 54880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.