About Whiplash Injury
Whiplash syndrome refers to neck pain that is caused by injury to the neck after a rapid backward and forward motion to the neck from an external force. These rapid motions can cause structures within the neck to extend and flex beyond their normal range of motion, resulting in subsequent damage. The mechanism of injury is thought to include stretching of the ligaments, muscles, and facet joints within the cervical spine. This can lead to inflammation at the facet joint as well as severe pain and headaches when trying to move your head. Typically these symptoms occur after a car accident where an individual is rear-ended but can also occur after other physical trauma or contact sports.
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Symptoms of Whiplash Injury
Usual symptoms associated with whiplash syndrome include neck pain or stiffness. The onset of pain is usually within 24 hours after the injury. Sometimes pain can be felt at the base of the skull, the back of the head or even radiate into both shoulders. Typically movement of the neck, especially in the flexed or extended position, makes the pain worse. Patients can sometimes even endorse a sense of laxity in their neck that can sometimes feel like instability. Mild cases of whiplash syndrome may only last a few weeks and require conservative treatment. More severe cases of whiplash however may cause persistent pain that limits your function. These cases may require more treatment for pain relief.
Treatments for Whiplash Syndrome
Mild cases of whiplash injury improve fairly quickly over time with conservative options including over the counter medications, rest, and massage therapy. Severe cases may require more aggressive treatment options. These treatments may include prescription medications, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy and injection procedures. Depending on the severity of your whiplash symptoms, our providers can treat the specific areas of your cervical spine that are causing you pain. These may include facet joint injections or medial branch nerve blocks as the facet joint and capsule are often damaged in whiplash injuries. Additionally, you may be a candidate for cervical radiofrequency ablation which can provide long term pain relief without the need for surgery or excessive oral medications.
If you are looking to avoid steroids and seeking a more natural solution for your pain, our physicians offer Regenexx regenerative medicine procedures. Using platelet-rich plasma, platelet lysate and bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells, our providers are able to inject damaged tissue with these highly concentrated healing therapies to help improve pain, repair damaged tissue, and improve your function.
If you suffer from moderate to severe whiplash and are seeking pain relief, please book a consultation at Ospina Medical located in Midtown Manhattan. Our spine specialists are experts in treating cervical spine conditions and offer a variety of treatment options that will get you back to living your life!
What are the most common causes of whiplash?
- Rear-end car crashes
- Sports injuries
- Physical trauma
How is whiplash diagnosed?
At Ospina Medical, we have several methods of diagnosing whiplash, including physical exams, x-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and CT (computed tomography) scans.
How long does it take to heal from a whiplash injury?
How long it takes a patient to recover depends on numerous factors, including the extent of the injury, physical health, treatment regimen, and more. Many patients can recover within 30 – 45 days from the time of injury.