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What Steps Should I Take to Treat My Whiplash?
Left untreated, whiplash can cause chronic pain and other complications. Accident victims should take the following steps to protect themselves from further injury.
Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment
No matter how minor or severe your accident is, it is important that you seek medical treatment immediately after your collision. While it is best to get medical help at the scene of the accident, you can also visit the emergency room or schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible after your accident.
Because whiplash is a soft tissue injury, symptoms might not appear for hours or days, even weeks. It is best to go to a doctor as early as possible to begin treatment.
And because soft tissue injuries will not show up on an x-ray or other typical imaging scans, your doctor will need to perform other types of tests. However, if you go to the doctor and explain that you were just involved in a rear-end collision, he should know to check for injuries such as whiplash. This will inform him of the type of tests he should be performing.
Your physician can diagnose your injuries and come up with a plan to treat your whiplash symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Shoulder, neck, back, arm, or jaw pain and stiffness
- Tinnitus (i.e., ringing in the ears)
- Psychological issues (e.g., depression, anger, stress)
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Step 2: Administer Home Care
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may advise you to treat the symptoms at home. The doctor may advise you to rest, take over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen), and wear a soft cervical neck collar for a few weeks to prevent additional injuries.
Your doctor may also suggest that you ice the injury to reduce inflammation in the first couple of days after the accident, and follow it with heat to relieve the pain.
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Step 3: Do Range of Motion Exercises and Physical Therapy
Your doctor might also advise that you engage in range of motion exercises (rotational exercises) early in the treatment process, in addition to resting.
Some patients with whiplash symptoms may also benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and reduce pain. Patients who took some time off after an accident to recover may benefit from occupational therapy to help them return to work.
Step 4: Seek Chiropractic Care, Soft Tissue Rehabilitation, and Surgical Treatment
Whiplash can cause serious conditions such as:
- Joint dysfunction
- Disc herniations
- Nerve damage
- Sleep disorders
To treat these conditions effectively or prevent them from occurring in the first place, your physician may recommend the following:
- Chiropractic Care: Massage therapy, manual manipulation of the spine, trigger point therapy, electronic nerve stimulation, epidural spinal injections, and other treatments can help your neck and spine to move more normally and without pain after an accident.
- Soft Tissue Rehabilitation: Car accident victims may require soft tissue rehabilitation to treat their muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, and internal organs. Massage therapy, electro-stimulation, trigger point therapy, and strength-training exercises and stretches can help your muscles heal properly.
- Surgical treatment: Some accident victims who suffer from whiplash will suffer herniated discs and spinal fractures and may require surgery to readjust their spine and restore joint movement.
Step 5: Consult with a Mental Health Professional
In addition to treating the physical symptoms of whiplash, your physician may recommend that you seek treatment for any psychological symptoms you develop.
A doctor may recommend counseling and medication to deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional conditions that can result from whiplash. This can help prevent long-term problems and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.
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Whiplash injuries can be severe and require extensive treatment over the weeks and months following your accident. These treatments can get expensive, especially if your whiplash makes it difficult or impossible to work.
However, you may be able to recover medical damages from your insurer and the at-fault party’s insurer if you file a claim after your accident.
To give yourself the best chance at recovering damages, make sure you seek treatment as soon as possible after the accident and keep track of your injuries and treatments you receive. We will use that information to prove that you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses.