Conservative treatment for whiplash includes immobilizing the patient’s neck in a well-fitting soft cervical collar; use of pain, anti inflammatory, and muscle relaxant drugs; and physical therapy.
Physical therapy (PT) helps to reduce muscle spasms, increase circulation, and encourage healing. PT can range from the following modalities: damp heat, ice, ultrasound, electric stimulation, and exercise to revive range of movement and build strength. Cervical traction might be included to the treatment strategy if symptoms persist. A cervical traction apparatus that was portable can be used at office or home. Trigger point injections including a local anesthetic may help relieve pain and tenderness.
If symptoms continue for more than 6 weeks, or new symptoms appear the patient’s condition is re evaluated. Extension injuries that are severe can damage the intervertebral discs included. Surgical intervention may in rare cases be required, when an intervertebral disc is influenced.
Surgical Interventions for Whiplash
Rarely does operation is required by the treatment of whiplash. Surgical intervention is considered in acute cases such as scapular, those presenting consistent neck or shoulder pain. The pain may indicate a rip within an intervertebral disc. Certainly one of these procedures could be performed, when intervertebral disc removal is required:
- Discectomy is the surgical removal of the entire piquing intervertebral disc or part.
- Microdiscectomy incorporates the usage of a microscope to magnify the surgical field during disc removal.
- Percutaneous surgical procedures enable disc removal via a small incision in the trunk. All these are generally not used in the cervical spine (neck) but have been used in the low back. Automated Percutaneous Discectomy is done under radiologic control while a cannula (hollow tube) having a rotating blade breaks up the disk. The disk fragments are subsequently removed by aspiration.
Spinal Instrumentation and Fusion provides long-term stability once the target disk is removed. These processes solidify and join the degree where an intervertebral disc has been damaged or removed. Instrumentation, the employment of medically constructed hardware including rods and screws, can be combined with Spinal fusion (arthrodesis) to permanently join two or more vertebrae.
Throughout the recovery phase, the aim is really to help the patient resume normal activities at their pre-injury level.
The guidelines set forth by the spinal doctor and/or physical therapist should be followed. A house exercise plan is a key to rebuilding strength and increasing range of movement. It might be essential to continue physical therapy and modalities (e.g. damp heat) for a period of time.
Post operative pain or discomfort should be anticipated. Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) enables the patient to control their pain without hospital staff assist. PCA is eventually replaced by oral drug.
The individual could be encouraged to get up and walk the following day. Activity improves healing and circulation.
Physical therapy is added post-operatively empowering the individual to develop flexibility, strength, and increase range of motion. Physical therapy is generally continued on an outpatient basis for an amount of time. Furthermore, the therapist provides the patient with a customized home exercise program.
Prior to release in the hospital, the patient is given written directions and prescriptions for essential drugs. The individual ‘s care remains during follow-up visits with their spinal surgeon.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Neck Pain and Auto Injury
After being involved in an automobile accident, the sheer force of the impact can often cause whiplash, a common type of neck injury resulting from the sudden, back-and-forth motion of the head against the body due to a car wreck, or other incident. Because of this, many of the complex structures found within the neck, including the spine, ligaments and muscles, can be stretched beyond their normal range, causing injury and painful symptoms.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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