Whiplash: More than Standard Neck Pain
Whiplash is an injury to the neck muscles from rapid forward and backward motion of the neck caused by a trauma (eg, a car accident). It can cause acute (short-term) neck pain as well as restricted movement in your neck.
Approximately two-thirds of people involved in motor vehicle accidents develop symptoms of whiplash. The symptoms usually do not develop until two to 48 hours after the injury. Whiplash can also occur from falls, sports injuries, work injuries and other incidents.
Patients with whiplash injury may complain of pain and stiffness in the neck, extending into the shoulders and arms, upper back and even the upper chest. Two-thirds of patients suffer with headaches, especially at the base of the skull. Patients may also experience dizziness, difficulty swallowing, nausea and even blurred vision after injury, but these symptoms tend to resolve quickly.
To diagnose whiplash, Dr. Joseph Papuga will first take a thorough history of the injury and the patient’s previous medical history. Pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis, may increase the severity of the whiplash. Dr. Papuga will give the patient an in-depth physical examination with concentration on the neuromusculoskeletal system.
In addition to Dr. Papuga’s evaluation of your spine, he may order an x-ray or an MRI of your spine to evaluate any degenerative changes that may have existed before your whiplash injury. The diagnostic images and results of your physical and neurological evaluation are compared to develop the best treatment plan.
Soon after whiplash occurs—in the acute phase—the chiropractor will work on reducing neck inflammation using various therapy modalities (eg, ultrasound). He or she may also use gentle stretching and manual therapy techniques (eg, muscle energy therapy, a type of stretching).
Dr. papuga may also recommend you apply an ice pack on your neck and/or a light neck support to use for a short period of time. As your neck becomes less inflamed and the pain decreases, Dr. Papuga will perform gentle spinal manipulation or other chiropractic techniques to restore normal motion to your neck’s facet joints.
Dr. Papuga looks at the whole person—not just the painful problem. He views neck pain as unique to each patient, so he doesn’t just focus on your neck pain. In addition to treatment, Dr. Papuga may also prescribe therapeutic exercises to help restore normal motion in your spine and reduce whiplash symptoms.