If You Have Been Injured In a Car Accident Our Doctors Provide Treatment for Whiplash, Neck Injury, and Neck Trauma
If you have ever been involved in a rear-end car accident or had a sports injury where your head was snapped forward then backward, you probably suffered a whiplash injury. If you are like most people, you may have had pain for a few days or even weeks, and then things got better. Unfortunately, 14 to 40% of patients who suffer whiplash are left with symptoms that can persist for months or even years after the initial injury. Symptoms from a whiplash injury may include pain in the neck (sometimes only on one side), shoulder pain, arm pain, muscle spasms and sometimes headaches.
The exact source of pain in whiplash syndrome is unknown, but the potential “pain generators” include the ligaments, cartilage, joints, and nerve roots of the neck. In severe cases, the spinal cord itself may have been slightly injured. Diagnosing whiplash syndrome can be very difficult, since even MRI, CT scans and nerve studies may fail to show any “significant” findings. The best way to diagnose whiplash syndrome is by taking a history and performing a thorough exam of the head and neck.
The most important thing to do after a whiplash injury is to see a health care provider so severe neurological damage can be ruled out. Initially, ice may help to relieve swelling. Heat can be used after 72 hours to improve range of motion. You may be prescribed a short course of anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers. Massage, chiropractic care, and physical therapy are helpful in eliminating any remaining symptoms.
When the pain doesn’t go away with time, seeing an interventional pain specialist can help to both clarify the diagnosis and treat the symptoms. If your history and examination suggest that you are a candidate, your specialist will perform injections called “facet blocks” where a small amount of a numbing agent (sometimes combined with a steroid) is placed right next to the nerve going to the joints in your neck. If your pain gets better then the diagnosis of whiplash syndrome has been confirmed. If the relief from the blocks is substantial but only lasts for a few hours or days, then a more permanent block (called radiofrequency neurolysis) can be done. The results from radiofrequency can give months to years of relief, and when the pain returns the procedure can be repeated.
Pain from whiplash syndrome can lead to problems in other areas such as insomnia, anxiety, and even depression. The good news is that once diagnosed, treatment is usually very effective, even if the injury occurred years in the past! For more information on radiofrequency therapy please read the information contained in the “Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy for Spinal Pain” tab.