Whiplash is a continual problem in cities like ours. I will see about one new patient a week that has been rear ended. One of the challenges with treating whiplash patients that have neck and upper back pain along with headaches is that this is not a problem that you can just rest and then feel better. Whiplash type injuries take a lot of effort on the patients part if you want to improve.
This effort begins right after the car accident. Here are just a few things to remember as you recover from your whiplash injury.
1. If you are not broken, move! One of the biggest reasons some people take a long time to heal after a whiplash is that they do not stretch or even move after their accident. As long as you do not have a broken vertebra in the neck move your head and neck.
2. Do not use heat. Even for the first couple weeks ice anything that hurts. If you put heat on the injured area you will increase the amount of inflammation and increase tissue destruction and prolong healing. If it hurts, ice it.
3. Controlled rest. Most people rest too much after a whiplash. Your head is going to feel very heavy and you will have headaches. Every few hours take a 5 minute break and lay on your back with a rolled up towel under your neck. This will ease up the muscle strain, give the muscles that have been injured a break and do a little neck (cervical spine) traction.
4. Exercise as soon as possible. The sooner you get back to a nice light exercise routine the better. Make sure to clear this with your doctor.
5. This one will sound overly simple. Drink a lot of water. Water will help your muscle heal and stay hydrated.
6. Avoid time in the car. Over the 19 years I have been in practice it is obvious that people that have to drive a lot after the collision and the whiplash will take a lot longer to heal. If you can drive less. If you have to drive ask your doctor for some neck stretches and exercises you can do while driving.
This is not an exhaustive list of what to do after a whiplash. If you are having neck pain, upper back pain or headaches after your whiplash injury and would like more information please give my office a call and we will set you up for an appointment as soon as possible. One of the worst things to think after a whiplash is "maybe the pain will just go away."