Whiplash usually occurs as a result of a car crash when the head moves in a fast, uncontrolled way. More than 85 percent of those involved in a motor vehicle collision experience neck pain, with 29-40 percent recovering within a little more than three months and about 23 percent still not having recovered after one year. Whiplash can also be the result of sports injuries or falls. Here are the steps to follow if you have whiplash:
STEP 1: Immediately seek chiropractic attention following a whiplash injury. This is important as studies show delayed treatment is associated with worse outcomes. Around a quarter of those with whiplash will develop chronic problems. To avoid long-term disability, do not wait. Pain usually scares people into guarding the injured area, but the longer you wait, the greater the muscle tightness, spasm and weakness.
STEP 2: Reduce Inflammation. If you feel pain, you are inflamed. Anti-swelling measures should be started immediately after injury. The safest approach is ice. Use it for 20 minutes per hour, for three hours in a row. You also have the option of over the counter medications, like ibuprofen or naproxen, but these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs carry significant side-effects for some people, the most evident being stomach upset (later, liver and kidney damage). Consider anti-inflammatory nutrients, herbs, vitamins and foods. They are safe and effective. Examples include turmeric, ginger, boswellia, magnesium and fish oil.
STEP 3: Avoid inactivity. This is important since it is natural to stop doing things to avoid pain. A chiropractor will guide you in this process as you need to know how much and what type of activity is safe and appropriate.
STEP 4: Do normal activity. This is very important from both a physical and emotional standpoint. Get on with your normal activities because avoiding work and other activities of daily living leads to “disability thinking” or thinking you are worse than you are.
STEP 5: Avoid prolonged faulty postures. Whether it’s a conversation with a person who is not directly in front of you or a poor computer screen position, change it.
STEP 6: Start a home-based exercise program. A chiropractor will guide you in this process. It usually starts with ice and stretching and progresses to strength and balance training.
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