Common treatment for whiplash injuries

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Whiplash is a relatively common form of physical injury that occurs to a person's neck following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force and whiplash usually occurs following a motor vehicle accident. The impact of the collision causes the head and neck of the driver or any passengers to be suddenly and forcefully thrown back and forth causing soft tissue and ligaments in the neck to be stretched beyond their normal range of movement.

The pain and suffering experienced by somebody who has sustained a whiplash injury can often be underestimated. Whiplash injuries vary in their severity and accordingly, the time it takes to completely recover from a whiplash injury also varies considerably.

What are the symptoms?

As the symptoms of a whiplash injury are not usually immediately apparent, you may at first appear to have come away from the accident unscathed. However, within a few hours or even a few days of the accident you may start to experience pain, discomfort and stiffness in your neck, shoulders and upper back, restricted movement of your neck, headaches and nausea. You should consult your GP as soon as you suspect that you may have been injured as early intervention and treatment can reduce the length of recovery time.

What is the treatment for whiplash?

Treating a whiplash injury correctly is vital if you are to make a full recovery and avoid any complications. Common treatment methods prescribed by your doctor may include:

  • Strong painkillers (paracetamol, codeine etc.)
  • Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen etc.)
  • Gentle mobility exercises
  • A course of physiotherapy

The NHS Choices website also has further advice on treating whiplash.

Is a surgical collar necessary?

Surgical collars, which used to be strongly associated with whiplash injuries, are rarely prescribed these days as current medical opinion is that limiting movement of the neck by wearing a collar can actually prolong recovery. Most healthcare professionals now agree that active interventions, such as neck exercises and keeping the neck mobile, are better than inactive interventions, such as resting the neck and keeping it still by using a neck brace or collar.

Even though you may experience a considerable amount of pain, keeping your neck mobile from an early stage will help to improve its functionality and speed up your recovery.

Whiplash recovery time

Most people who sustain whiplash injuries make a full recovery from their injury within a number of months of the accident. There are, of course, exceptional cases where people who have sustained a more severe form of whiplash take several years to make a full recovery or are even likely to have residual symptoms on a permanent basis.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury you should seek medical and legal advice as soon as possible after the accident. A specialist whiplash injury solicitor will be able to answer any questions you may have as well as advising you of your chances of pursuing a successful claim.

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