An auto accident is frightening, confusing and hard to deal with, even if the victim walks away with zero injuries. Unfortunately, most accidents result in some kind of injury, whether it is a broken arm or a pulled muscle. Whiplash is one of the most common complaints after an auto collision, and can cause intense pain in the neck. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate this pain with the help of physical therapy.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a medical condition triggered by abrupt jerking of the head, usually affecting the soft tissues in the neck. When a car is hit from behind, the sudden impact and jolt of the hit causes the head to snap backward then forward, resulting in the neck muscles being stretched beyond their normal limits. Sufferers often experience mild to severe pain afterwards.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Whiplash symptoms can be as mild as a minor achy neck and/or shoulders or as severe as intense pain, tingling and numbness in the neck, shoulders, or even arms. Headaches are often associated with this condition, as well as stiffness in the joints. Dizziness is also common in whiplash sufferers. It is also normal to have no symptoms immediately after an accident, with symptoms only appearing 24 to 72 hours later.
How is whiplash treated?
Sometimes, over the counter anti-inflammatories are effective in treating whiplash. Often, though, since anti-inflammatories only bring down inflammation and do not interact directly with muscles, this method of pain management just is not enough. Physical therapy is frequently recommended in whiplash patients. Physical therapy involves the treatment of injury through physical manipulation, such as massage, stretching, heat or exercise.
The physical therapist will first focus on easing the initial pain of this condition. This may mean neck immobilization in the form of a neck collar, to be worn for a few days accompanied by bedrest. Then, the therapist will work with the patient to gently stretch the neck muscles. Treatment may also include the therapist working with the patient in terms of how their bodies move and how that affects the healing neck muscles. Therapists often assign homework to be completed at home by the patient for maximum results.