Whiplash - Treatment
Whiplash is usually treated by one or more of three methods: medication, physical therapy, and supportive devices. Medication helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Physical therapy is used to realign the spine to relax pinched nerves and improve blood flow. Padded collars and other supportive devices hold the head and neck in position while they heal. In severe cases, cervical traction, may be used. Cervical traction involves a steady pull on the neck to keep it in the correct position as it heals.
Some simple methods of self-care can often be used with whiplash injuries. For example, the injured area can be wrapped with ice for ten to twenty minutes every hour for the first day. After twenty-four hours, cold packs can be alternated with heat treatments. Letting a warm shower run on the neck and shoulders for ten to twenty minutes twice a day is recommended. Between showers, warm towels or a heat lamp can be used to warm and soothe the neck for ten to fifteen minutes several times a day.
Gentle massage and attention to one's posture can also be helpful. Sleeping without a pillow can promote healing. The use of a cervical collar, a device that holds the neck in place, or a small rolled towel under the chin can also provide support and prevent muscle fatigue.
Self-care, however, is seldom sufficient for the treatment of whiplash injury. The patient should consult a family doctor, an orthopedic specialist, or a chiropractor after such an injury. Professional care is especially important if the injury results in pain, weakness, or numbness in the face or arms following an injury.
- Cervical traction:
- The process of using a mechanism to create a steady pull on the neck in order to keep it in the correct position while it heals.
- A type of arthritis that weakens the joint cartilage. It is most common among the elderly.