If you were in a car accident and the force of the collision knocked your head forward and backward, you could have a whiplash injury. A whiplash injury—also known as a cervical sprain or hyper-extension injury—can cause mild to severe pain in your neck and shoulders. You may also experience vertigo, muscle spasms, sleep difficulties, and headaches after the accident.
It's important to get checked out by a doctor to make sure that you have a proper diagnosis and no further injuries. If your doctor does diagnose you with a whiplash injury, then you'll want to visit a chiropractic injury rehab clinic. Here are just a few treatments a rehab clinic may offer.
After a whiplash injury, you may suffer from muscle guarding, where muscles contract to protect or "splint" areas in the body from a perceived threat. Muscle guarding can cause tight, tense muscles, which can be painful. Muscle guarding may also cause muscle spasms. The injury clinic may offer gentle massage modalities to relieve this tension. For instance, cranial sacral therapy is a good modality for neck injuries and headaches. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you could opt for deeper therapy, like trigger-point release, so your muscles really loosen up and relax.
After your injury, you may develop a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves can cause numbness and pins-and-needle sensations in your limbs. You may also feel muscle weakness and pain.
Swelling and inflammation can cause this nerve compression. The force of the accident could also cause misalignment in your cervical spine, which could cause a pinched nerve. A chiropractor can use gentle motions to fix any subluxations. These chiropractic adjustments will help your injury heal and take pressure off any compressed nerves.
Your doctor may require you to wear a temporary neck brace so that your injury will heal properly. Once you are done wearing the brace, your muscles and neck may still be sore and stiff. It's important to go to an injury clinic so that they can show you how to stretch your neck without reinjuring it. The clinic can help you restore your range of motion.
If the physical therapy is painful, the clinic may recommend that you go to your doctor for muscle relaxants or numbing injections, like lidocaine. These medications may relax your muscles enough and decrease your pain so that you can continue physical therapy without discomfort.
Lastly, it's important to rest at home and alternate between heat and ice packs. Heat packs will improve circulation in the injured site, which can improve healing. Plus, heat helps your muscles relax. Ice packs are good because they will reduce inflammation in the area. Contact an injury rehab clinic in your area for further at-home instructions or questions.