Whiplash, an injury to the neck caused by a severe impact like a car accident, is usually diagnosed by a doctor from the way you describe your symptoms, or by an examination of the arms and neck. This will double check that the vertebrae and spinal nerves have not been affected – if damage is suspected, additional tests may be suggested.
What is the best treatment for whiplash?
Try to move your neck as normally as possible, as often as you can. While the pain may be quite severe initially, and rest for the first day or so may be advisable, gentle exercise once you are able to move is a good idea to prevent stiffening.Slowly, build up the range of neck movements, moving your neck gently in all directions every few hours or so every day. You won’t damage your neck by moving it, so you should try to continue with your regular activities as much as you can.
Things like paracetamol (full-strength) and anti-inflammatory painkillers can help, or codeine may be an option if anti-inflammatories are not effective. Occasionally, a muscle relaxant may be prescribed for a few days.
Other options for the best treatment for whiplash include:
- Good posture, especially if you sit at a desk most of the day — some people find the Alexander technique and pilates are also helpful for improving neck posture;
- A firm, supportive pillow (try to use just one) may also mean you sleep better; and
- A physiotherapist may suggest several types of treatment for whiplash if pain persists — this may include heat, manipulation, or traction, or they may just recommend exercise for you to do by yourself.
You should go back to your doctor if the pain worsens, if it lasts longer than six weeks, or if you notice other symptoms.
The good news is that in most cases, the outlook for whiplash is very good. Within a few weeks, most patients will have made a complete recovery. In the minority of cases where the pain becomes chronic, other pain relieving techniques may be tried. Persistent whiplash may also be associated with anxiety and depression, which may also have to be treated.
Don’t forget, if you’ve suffered a whiplash injury in the last three years in an accident which was not your fault, you can claim personal injury compensation. Accident Advice Helpline can help you with your claim on a no win no fee basis. Learn more today. If you want to discuss your claim in more detail with an adviser then dial 0800 689 0500 from your land line, or 0333 500 0993 from your mobile.