If you’ve been in a car accident, you may have experienced whiplash. This injury can cause pain and limit your range of motion. After any accident, even if it seems, minor, you need to see an accident injury doctor to make certain you haven’t seriously hurt yourself. The ligaments and soft tissue in the neck can be stretched and damaged by whiplash. If you can’t get in to see a doctor right away, you likely will want to do something to help limit the pain and prevent further damage. While treating severe whiplash at home isn’t always possible, here are a few things you can do to help with minor whiplash or to hold you over until you can see a professional.
Apply Ice and Heat
Alternating between ice and heat can help reduce inflammation and help keep your neck from stiffening up. For ice, hold an ice pack to your neck for 15 minutes at a time every hour. With heat, you want to use moist heat for 15 minutes every two to three hours. Always wrap the ice pack or heating pad in a towel—don’t put it directly on the skin. Also, never fall asleep with the heat or ice pack or use a product that is damaged.
Gently Move Your Neck
Gently move your neck from side to side and up and down to help prevent stiffness. Perform these neck exercises regularly throughout the day, especially if you often do work that doesn’t allow you to move around often, such as sitting in front of a computer all day. If you do, you need to frequently take breaks to help the muscles in your neck and shoulders to relax.
Avoid Causing Further Damage
Be careful that you don’t do things throughout the day that aggravate the injury. For example, don’t hold your phone between your ear and shoulder because this can stretch your neck muscles in an awkward way. Instead, put the call on speaker or use a headset.
Also, be careful if you regularly wear a backpack or carry a heavy back on one shoulder. The additional weight may not seem to affect your neck, but it can. Whiplash can damage more than just your neck, so doing anything that puts strain on your shoulders and upper back should be avoided until you’ve seen a car accident injury chiropractor.
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication
You can take over-the-counter medication, although you should call and check with your doctor’s office before you do so. In most cases, acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen are all good options that can help with inflammation and pain.
When Do You Need to Seek Medical Attention?
Again, any time you’ve been in an accident, you should see your doctor just to make certain everything is okay. However, with whiplash, you definitely need to get checked out if the symptoms get worse or you start having blurred vision, dizziness, and constant headache. Other signs that your whiplash is serious including numbness in your hand or arm and difficulty swallowing. Normally, whiplash symptoms last between two and four weeks. If they go on past that, you also need to see a doctor.
Your doctor may give you prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, or muscle relaxants. They may also suggest that you wear a cervical collar and attend physical therapy. You may be referred to a chiropractor for further treatment.
We Can Help with Whiplash
The experts here at Pro-Care Medical Centers are licensed chiropractors and medical professionals who have years of experience in car accident injuries. Our team can assist you with whiplash, including providing care that is non-invasive and does not rely on drugs. Contact us today to book an appointment.