Whiplash is one of the most commonly experienced automobile injuries with an estimated over three million American cases every year. Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when a person experiences a forceful jerk, likely due to an automobile accident, causing the head to rapidly move back and forth. Whiplash injuries can range from minor to severe, but no matter the severity, a neck and spinal injury that goes untreated can worsen and cause later complications.
You should always reach out to your physician for treatment of your injury first. But it is always beneficial to know how you can help your body heal faster, so here are five tips for treating your whiplash injury:
Cold and hot therapies
Immediately following your automobile injury, it is extremely important to ice your neck, back, and shoulders to reduce swelling and inflammation. The first 48 hours after an accident is when the most swelling occurs; icing your muscles and soft tissue during this time will help to ease pain and discomfort. After the first 48 hours, switch from ice to heat. Heat therapies work to loosen tight muscles and encourage blood flow to allow for healing. Alternating between cold and hot therapies while you are recovering is necessary for maximum relief.
Although some treatments of whiplash, such as foam collars, call for the head and neck to remain still and in place, this is not always beneficial during recovery. A stiff neck can decrease muscle strength and negatively impact your healing process. Thus moving your head and neck in small increments will help you to slowly recover proper functioning and range of motion.
Educate yourself on the best ways to sleep
Correct alignment of the neck and spine is necessary for proper recovery following whiplash from an automobile accident. Certain sleeping positions can help support the back and neck while relieving tension such as sleeping on your back or on your side with a pillow in between your legs. Other sleeping positions can compromise proper spinal alignment such as sleeping on your stomach by causing back arching and neck strain, and thus should be avoided.
Try out some home remedies
One of the main sources of pain in a whiplash injury is inflammation. Fortunately, there are an abundance of home remedies that naturally reduce inflammation. Hot teas such as green, ginger, turmeric, and chamomile tea can all help with inflammation. Additionally, over-the-counter medication such as Ibuprofen can aid with both inflammation and pain.
Don’t delay treatment
The worst thing you can do for your body after any injury is avoid seeking treatment, and this is especially true of whiplash injuries. If you don’t seek immediate medical attention, your spine could become permanently misaligned causing an abundance of chronic structural issues from head to toe.
If you have suffered from an automobile accident and think you may be experiencing whiplash, contact Dr. Chandra for treatment today!
Dr. Ramesh Chandra has been practicing orthopaedic surgery in the Washington DC Metropolitan area since 1984. The Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is easily accessed from anywhere in the Washington DC metropolitan area, with offices located in Falls Church, Reston/Herndon, and Tysons Corner.