"What should I do after a whiplash type injury?"
Many people will call the office and ask this question. They had just been in a whiplash, rear-end type accident and they want to know what to do. Most people who suffer a whiplash will have neck pain, upper back pain, headaches, shoulder pain and even low back pain. Once I get to meet with a patient this, will usually be my main advice for a whiplash type injury:
1. Ice. Do not use heat on a new injury. Even if you get short term relief from the whiplash type pain, the heat will increase the inflammation that the accident caused and you will actually do more damage. I will usually recommend Ice to the area of pain for 10 min, two or three times a day.
2. Actively rest. What does this mean? After whiplash, so many people will come in the office three weeks after the collision and are much worse because they only rest. The more they rest, the stiffer they become. Whiplash patients will need to rest multiple times a day by laying on a rolled up towel under the neck. But if the whiplash patient only rests, without staying active, they will get worse. If the patient can confirm there are no broken vertebra, general range of motion exercises are needed from day one. The accident victim will also need to exercise and having a walking program within a week of the collision. With guidance, the more you move, the better you will feel.
3. Sleep, water and vitamins. Simple stuff here. After a your car has been struck by a 2500 lb vehicle and your head was whipped back and forth, you will need a little help recovering. Healing happens when you sleep, so make sure to get good sleep. Water is essential for healing and I would recommend increasing your water intake. Vitamins are needed to help the tissues repair and a good multi vitamin is very important.
4. Massage therapy. Deep tissue massage is essential in healing after a whiplash. Your muscles have been strained and scar tissue will set in if you do not give the muscle the opportunity to heal properly. Proper massage therapy to the area of injury will help elongate the muscle, increase blood flow and therefore help the proper nutrients get into the tissue and decrease the scar tissue that will develop in the areas. Massage therapy will also increase the range of motion that is lost after a whiplash type injury.
5. Possible physical therapy. I recommend home exercise and going to the gym to exercise. If I have a patient that cannot do a home exercise program nor get to a gym, I will recommend professional physical therapy.
6. Home stretching and exercise. No whiplash patient leaves the office without instructions on home stretching and exercise. This is vital to healing. Most of the healing after a whiplash will be due to the whiplash victims home therapy. In contrast, most of the regression in healing will be due to a lack of home therapy.
7. Chiropractic care. Chiropractic care is not just the chiropractic adjustment, it involves all of the above and the adjustment. I will be your coach during the healing process, coaching you through all of the above while also looking at any hinderances that you may have in healing from your whiplash.
This is a short list of instructions that should be done after a whiplash type injury. If you or someone you know has been involved in a whiplash type injury or any other type of injury, I would be happy to set up a time to sit and talk with you about how chiropractic care can help you recover from your whiplash.
If you have general questions about chiropractic care I would also enjoy the opportunity to speak with you about how we can serve you.