Maybe you were having fun playing a sport or riding a roller coaster. Or you were out and about running errands when someone hit your car from behind. In any case, your head moved backward then suddenly forward with enough force that it gave you whiplash — and now you're in pain. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help provide short-term relief and prevent long-term damage.
At Metro Pain and Vein Centers, our doctors use their collective backgrounds in osteopathy, pain management, and anesthesiology to determine the underlying cause of your pain as well as to create a personalized care plan designed for long-lasting relief. With eight offices in New Jersey and New York we’re conveniently located for specialized treatments in the tri-state area.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when the sudden force of the head jerking forward or backward causes the muscles and tendons in the neck to stretch and/or tear, resulting in neck strain.
Pain often results when moving the head side to side or forward and backward as well as when looking over your shoulder when driving. Other symptoms can include tenderness and decreased range of motion, and your muscles may feel tight or knotted.
Discomfort often isn't only localized to the neck. Headaches, pain or tenderness in the shoulder and back area, and numbness and tingling in the arms are also possible, along with fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, and difficulty concentrating, among other issues.
Symptoms typically — though not always — emerge within 24 hours of the injury.
Why is treatment important?
Seeking professional treatment right away is key to getting a fast and accurate diagnosis as well as to make sure there aren't more serious issues like broken bones or tissue damage.
At Metro Pain and Vein Centers, your doctor conducts a physical exam and tests your range of motion. Strength, reflexes, and sensation in the arms and legs are also likely checked. Often an imaging test such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI is ordered to get a better sense of your injury and rule out other conditions that could be interacting with the whiplash and causing pain.
For milder injuries, rest, hot and cold packs, and over-the-counter medications may be enough to provide relief. If your pain is more serious, however, you may need a medical professional to prescribe medications. Antidepressants can help relieve nerve pain while muscle relaxants loosen tight muscles and aid in relief. Your doctor can prescribe effective exercises and physical therapy, and they can also inject the numbing drug lidocaine into the sore area to reduce discomfort.
In rare cases, chronic pain and/or headaches can last for years after the initial injury. A medical professional may be able to identify an issue with the discs, ligaments, and/or neck joints, though sometimes there’s no medical cause.
If you’ve suffered an injury and are experiencing neck pain, call today or click to book an appointment with one of our doctors at Metro Pain and Vein Centers.