Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries, although physical trauma (such as being shaken violently by the shoulders) can cause the condition as well.
True to its name, whiplash occurs when something makes the head quickly move (or whip) backward and forward. The harsh movement can strain muscles and tear ligaments in the neck, leading to pain and stiffness.
Whiplash recovery requires time (how long depends upon the severity of the injuries), rest, and self-care. Here’s how to treat a whiplash neck injury after an auto accident in Brooklyn, NY.
Seek Medical Attention First
Although most whiplash cases heal on their own with self-care, you should visit an auto accident doctor if you suspect you have it, particularly if you were involved in a car accident. Medical exams are important after an accident as you may need an x-ray or MRI to determine how badly injured your neck is. Severe whiplash may indicate you have a damaged disc, which will extend your recovery time.
A physician can give you a time frame for recovery. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for whiplash to heal.
They will also provide guidance on how to treat your whiplash at home. This may include any of the following:
Cold and Heat Therapy
Many patients find relief following a whiplash injury by applying ice or a cold pack to the neck for the first few days, followed by heat. Cold temperatures can help decrease swelling and inflammation after a whiplash injury occurs. Heat may then be applied to increase circulation to promote healing and help the area become more flexible again.
When applying ice or a cold pack, always wrap a towel around it first to prevent frostbite. Your doctor will advise you how often to ice to the area, usually for 15 minutes at a time a few times a day.
Use a source of moist heat (such as a towel dampened with hot water.) This will help its therapeutic benefits penetrate better, and it just feels more soothing on the skin.
Over-the-counter painkillers may be used to help decrease soreness and swelling. Medicines that contain the ingredients ibuprofen or naproxen are good choices for reducing inflammation. If pain is bad enough, your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength pain reliever.
Resting Your Neck
For the first few days following a whiplash injury, your doctor may instruct you to limit your neck movements as much as possible to give it a chance to heal. You may be given a neck brace (cervical collar) to wear for a brief period to stabilize the neck and prevent further injury.
Exercise, Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
Once your neck has started to heal, exercise, chiropractic care, or physical therapy may be needed to help limber up the muscles and increase movement. Your doctor will give you a list of exercises to do at home to safely help your neck regain full movement.
Find a Doctor to Assist With Your Whiplash Recovery
Above all, most whiplash injuries require patience as the injured tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your neck heal.
If you think you have whiplash, use our search feature to find an auto accident doctor in Brooklyn, NY who can make a diagnosis and treat your injury.
Call (718) 769-2521 today to make an appointment with an experienced doctor in Brooklyn who can treat your whiplash injury. We accept most major medical insurance plans, workers’ compensation, medical liens, and no-fault insurance. Same-day appointments may be available.