The term is usually used today to describe a broad-range neck injury that occurs as the result of a motor vehicle accident. The most common variety of motor vehicle accident that causes this kind of injury is, of course, a rear impact.
Until recently, the reason for the huge number of whiplash injuries was poorly understood; many were possibly even overlooked. Current research is beginning to shed light on the damage caused to the neck from a rear-end collision. Related symptoms and conditions are now understood to include joint dysfunction, disc herniation, faulty movement patterns caused by nervous system changes, chronic pain for a variety of reasons, and even cognitive dysfunction.
Whiplash cases are costly, too; they affect more than the just people who suffer from the physical trauma. A study from the United Kingdom this year, which spans the four-year range between 2009 and 2012, showed a 21% rise in insurance costs for all drivers when the sum totals of the sampled years were combined.
Whiplash was cited by insurance companies as being the main factor behind the price hikes.
Options for treating whiplash
For some of the more fortunate victims, over-the-counter pain medications, common-sense care of oneself, and the passage of time may be enough for an eventual and full recovery.
But for many whiplash sufferers, the damage is considerably more severe and may require any of the following as part of a comprehensive treatment program:
- Prescription pain medications
- Injections of lidocaine (numbing medication) into the muscle tissues to reduce spasm and associated pain
- Prescription muscle relaxers and tranquilizers
- Prescription sleep aids
- Physical therapy, which is a mainstay of whiplash treatment. This can include ice therapy, heat applications, manual therapies (typically myofascial release), ultrasound, and even approved exercises.
- Foam cervical collars, often used for brief periods of time to immobilize the neck.
Many medical professionals are involved in the treatment of whiplash: medical doctors, chiropractors, pain management specialists, physical therapists and their assistants, occupational therapists, and even massage therapists.
With all the options available, it’s important to perform due diligence in research to assure a good quality whiplash treatment program. For long-term health after a full recovery from whiplash, proper and thorough treatment immediately following the onset of the injury is required.