Treatments for whiplash injury
As soon as you suspect you have sustained a whiplash injury you should go to the accident and emergency department at your local hospital or make an appointment to see your G.P. Read an overview of whiplash injury.
A medical professional will be able to establish the type of personal injury you have sustained and advise you on the outlook for your injury. Read more about diagnosis and prognosis of whiplash injury.
They will then advise on how your whiplash injury can be treated and how the symptoms you are experiencing can be relieved. Read more about signs and symptoms of whiplash injury.
Prescribed medical treatment
Cold compresses - Medical professionals regularly advise the use of ice packs immediately after the injury occurs to reduce swelling. Bags of frozen peas applied for 20 minutes every hour are ideal as they mould to the body.
Warm compresses - Heat packs or warm towels may also be applied to the neck as they can reduce muscle spasms.
Running a warm shower on the neck and shoulders twice a day is also soothing.
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - Regular pain relief such as ibuprofen and aspirin may be recommended to reduce levels of discomfort to the neck and head. These are available on prescription or from a chemist. However, those with asthma, high blood pressure, kidney failure, or heart failure may not be able to take anti-inflammatory painkillers.
Stronger pain killers – This is an option if anti-inflammatories are unsuitable for you. Codeine is a common example which can often be taken in addition to paracetamol.
Muscle relaxant – Some doctors may prescribe a muscle relaxant such as diazepam on a temporary basis if your muscles become too tense and the pain becomes intolerable.
Cervical collar - There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of the cervical collar. Although it was once favoured as the best treatment for whiplash injury, research has shown that early mobilisation is more beneficial. Prolonged use of the collar can effectively worsen the injury and slow down the rate of recovery. Therefore, use of a soft collar is usually limited to a few days and movement of the neck is encouraged after 24 hours.
Following a whiplash injury, a short period of rest should give way to a gradual increase in movement. It is important to keep your neck moving as normally as possible in order to encourage the neck muscles to loosen up and build in strength. Most doctors will advise carrying out a range of neck movements several times a day until normal use of the neck is resumed.
You may be referred to a specialist such as a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor for physical treatment. Physical therapy helps reduce muscle spasms, increase circulation and promote healing. Other popular treatments include spinal manipulative therapy which is combined with exercises to strengthen the muscles.
Mobility exercises are usually recommended by specialists, for example:
- Stand with your back against a wall and you head facing forwards.
- Move your eyes as if you were looking towards the two, four, eight and ten positions on an imaginary clock.
- This movement causes slight movement in some deep muscles in the back of the head.
However, you should always consult your doctor or specialist before performing any new mobility exercises following a whiplash injury.
This is extremely rare but surgery may be necessary for those with the most severe Whiplash Associated Disorders. For example, in cases where the patient is experiencing chronic pain as a result of a tear in an intervertebral disc or there is pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord, surgery may be required.
The determining factors for surgery being performed are:
- The patient is experiencing severe and persistent neck and shoulder pain
- The patient is very disabled
- The patient is psychologically healthy
- The patient’s condition has not improved with non-operative care
When the removal of an intervertebral disc is necessary one of the following procedures may be performed:
Discectomy – the surgical removal of part or the entire intervertebral disc.
Microdiscectomy – where a microscope is used to magnify the surgical field during disc removal
Percutaneous – a surgical procedure allowing disc removal through a slight incision in the back. However, these are more likely to be used in the lower back than in the cervical spine
Following target disc removal, spinal instrumentation (the use of rods and screws) is often combined with spinal fusion to permanently join two or more vertebrae and close the gap.
Other whiplash injury tips
Posture – postural education teaches that you pull your shoulders back and point your chest out while keeping your back straight. Remember this position while standing, walking and sitting at your desk. This will help you to build up muscle strength, decrease strain on the discs and vertebrae and give damaged tissue a greater chance to heal.
Orthopaedic pillow – some recommend no pillow at all but a firm pillow gives the head and neck vital support, helping to improve comfort and promote sleep. Contour memory pillows made from visco-elastic memory foam, originally developed for NASA to provide astronauts with increased comfort during space flights, are the ideal option. For more details see http://www.ezlmarketing.co.uk
Driving – it is advisable not to drive until pain and stiffness have diminished. You should also adjust your headrest correctly and consider investing in a whiplash resistant headrest.
Sports – those that have resumed a whiplash injury as a result of a sporting accident are advised to recover slowly and completely before resuming play.
Making a whiplash injury compensation claim today
If you have suffered a whiplash injury through no fault of your own then you could be entitled to make a compensation claim.
Our personal injury solicitors have an excellent success rate and are at hand to offer free legal advice, talk you through each step of your claim and will fight to get you the most compensation available for your whiplash injury.
We work on a no win, no fee basis. What this means is that, in the event your case is not successful, you won't be charged a penny. It means that making a claim is a completely risk free process - this lets you focus on getting better, not worrying about money.
So what do you have to lose? Simply fill out one of our online claim forms or give us a call on 0800 197 32 32.