FAQ’s on Whiplash
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a strain and resulting pain in the neck muscles as a result of an injury to the neck. This collection of symptoms presents itself as a problematic injury that can cause significant pain and prolonged problems if left untreated. The jerking movement of the neck backward and forward, often resulting from a motor vehicle accident, sports injury or sudden impact of the head and neck, causes whiplash.
The neck pain caused by a whiplash injury may not subside within a few days, few weeks or even months. Pain may become chronic and debilitating, resulting in a disruption in work and the performance of daily activities.
Nearly ten percent of all whiplash sufferers develop chronic pain in the neck that lasts for months, according to research conducted at the University of Newcastle in Australia (Bogduk, et al., 2000). Of these chronic pain sufferers, significant debilitation results and a complete disruption in daily activities arises due to pain and discomfort.
In chronic whiplash, the joints in between the vertebrae may be affected by the injury. The discs, ligaments and muscles, along with nerve roots may be impacted, resulting in pain that does not go away right away, but persists for weeks or even months.
What are the symptoms of whiplash and how do I know I have it?
Most symptoms of whiplash show up within 24 hours of injury. While not all symptoms may arise within that 24-hour cycle, various symptoms may present themselves over the course of a few days following the injury. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Severe neck pain and stiffness with limited mobility and range of motion
- Persistent headaches
- Low back pain or pain that radiates from the neck into the upper back
- Dizziness and blurred vision
- Confusion or a difficulty concentrating on routine tasks
- Overall tiredness in the body, insomnia and moodiness
- Stiffness in between the shoulder blades, muscle tightness
Chronic whiplash may result in the above symptoms that last for weeks and months at a time. If your symptoms are prolonged in nature, it is important to seek medical care to provide relief from this kind of debilitating pain.
Can whiplash be diagnosed?
In the majority of cases, whiplash can be diagnosed and treated effectively. In order to diagnose the condition, x-rays and other diagnostic imaging may be required. In an x-ray the San Diego chiropractor or pain management doctor is not able to assess the extent of the soft tissue damage because it will not show up on the imaging, however, the SD pain doctor is able to view the x-ray to determine if there is a fracture or other type of injury that results in pain. Flexion-extension x-rays (dynamic imaging) can help show if there is soft tissue injury.
More specialized imaging can help diagnose whiplash. Some of the most highly effective diagnostic tests include CT scans of the neck and magnetic resonance imaging, known as an MRI. Where soft tissue damage cannot be detected on x-rays, these highly specialized tests are designed to offer good views of the damage caused by a whiplash injury.
How is chronic whiplash treated and is treatment effective?
The kind of treatment for chronic whiplash is contingent on a variety of factors, including how long the patient has been suffering from symptoms. No single treatment may be exclusive, but the condition may require a combination of treatments to curb the pain. Since no injury is alike, patients may require a combination of treatment options from medication to relieve pain to ultrasound therapy and physical therapy traction.
When the pain is chronic, injections may be required to help eliminate the pain and inflammation. There are times when the discs and tissue in between the discs may become inflamed and painful. Other forms of treatment may be necessary to eliminate the pain.
Chronic conditions may require extensive treatment to help relieve symptoms. Several treatment options may be required, as one may not do the necessary job in relieving pain. In some cases where the condition has been chronic, lasting several months, arthritis may have settled into the cervical spine. Your pain management doctor in San Diego can provide relief from this kind of pain and help reduce inflammation and further bouts of pain.
Treatment options may include:
- Chiropractic therapy with manipulations, TENS unit, ultrasound, electrical stimulation.
- Spinal Decompression Therapy – very effective for neck pain.
- Physical Therapy – Active and Passive Modalities
- Pain Treatments – Medications, Bracing, Trigger Point Injections, Facet Injections, Radiofrequency Ablation.
According to statistics approximately 99.2% of all patients with whiplash injuries resolve within one month; however, for that small fraction of painful symptoms occurring longer, the severity of symptoms can be troublesome. In fact, of those patients 75% of them still had debilitating problems that handicapped their ability to carry out normal activities after one year (Kasch, et al., 2001).
The pain is real, but does not have to be disabling because treatment is available. Your San Diego pain management specialist can help combat the pain and help your symptoms diminish so that you can get on with life.
If you suffer from symptoms of whiplash and have found ineffective treatment at home, see either a SD pain doctor or San Diego chiropractor right away for a complete assessment of the injury. There is no need to continue suffering from the chronic painful condition.
Call (619) 500-1573 for more information and scheduling today!