What are whiplash symptoms and how are they treated? With more than 120,000 cases recorded every year, whiplash is one of the most common automobile accident injuries. The high incidence rate means physicians and healthcare providers have developed a wide range of treatments and therapies which can help accident survivors recover from their injuries. While treatment and recovery takes time and can have a significant impact on the individual's ability to work and quality of life, it is common for patients to recover completely from their injuries at the completion of treatment.
Pain management using painkillers including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are among the first therapies physicians apply to treat initial mild to moderate whiplash symptoms. This is often coupled with the use of ice packs. It is also common for emergency responders to apply neck braces to immobilize the neck until x-rays confirm that the spine is not damaged. Typically, the neck brace is worn for 24-48 hours after the accident and may be replaced with a hard cervical collar if the neck was fractured in the accident. In cases where severe pain is reported, physicians may prescribe stronger pain medication including codeine or morphine as well as muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms.
It is common for whiplash symptoms to be treated using a variety of physical therapies that can be applied by physicians, physiotherapists, and chiropractors. These treatments help heal the soft tissues, alleviate pain, and restore the individual's normal range of motion. Passive physical therapies can include deep tissue massage, the application of hot/cold packs, and ultrasound. These therapies are designed to increase blood and oxygen flow into the tissue which helps expedite the healing process. The increased flow of nutrients into the tissue can also help minimize muscle spasms, reduce swelling, and alleviate cramps. Passive therapies can be applied for as long as necessary without any detrimental impact on the individual's health or long-term recovery prospects.
In cases where the whiplash symptoms are stable, physicians and physiotherapists often recommend traction therapy. This involves using gentle techniques by hand or via a head halter to gradually stretch the muscles within the neck. It also involves a daily regimen of stretching and exercise activities that gradually increase the patient's range of motion. If pain persists, the physician or physiotherapist may recommend the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, sometimes called simply "TENS" which can help the muscles relax and heal without the need for further medication. These treatments can continue for anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on the severity of the injury.
It is quite common for physicians and physiotherapists to recommend the patient remain active. This is because periods of inactivity can cause whiplash symptoms to worsen. It is also quite common for members of the medical team to review the individual's employment and recommend adjustments to work tasks. This helps ensure that the individual won't exacerbate the symptoms as they perform normal work-related tasks.
At Brad Pistotnik Law, we often see serious conditions misdiagnosed as whiplash. Many serious injuries are missed by doctors who treat what they consider to be minor injuries. The truth is that in an automobile accident, seat belts can cause subacromial impingement in the shoulder. Many hospitals and doctors diagnose whiplash based on physical inspection while failing to use MRI and PET and SPECT scans which would prove the greater extent of the injuries. In fact, most doctors do not use nerve conduction studies and other methods to look for nerve and disc injuries when examing a patient complaining of whiplash symptoms. Just because a doctor takes and X-ray and says nothing is broken, it does not mean you do not have a deeper injury. To know what real injury you have you need a qualified doctor who will do the appropriately thorough diagnostic tests to perform a differential diagnosis and then send you to appropriate radiology studies and pain management doctors. A whiplash injury means the insurance company ignores the case. Once a more substantial injury is diagnosed your case can be worth a much higher amount.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents car accident victims in Wichita, Topeka, Dodge City, and areas throughout Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois. Our firm can represent your claim and pursue compensation for whiplash symptoms whether the accident occurred on Highway 50, I-70, I-35, or elsewhere in these states. Pursuing claims as soon as possible is important as it helps ensure that the funds are available to complete therapy and move forward down the road to recovery.
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