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Top Tips To Help You Recover From A Whiplash Injury
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The majority of people will suffer from whiplash at some point in their lives as a result of a fast, unexpected acceleration-deceleration force. For example, if you are in a road traffic accident and the vehicle you are in stops very suddenly, the lower bones in your neck will be forced to hyperextend, whilst the upper bones will hyperflex, leading to misalignment neck pain and inflammation. In layman’s terms, the term ‘whiplash’ refers to neck pain that’s occurred as a result of the muscles in this area being overstretched.

How Do I Know If I Have Whiplash?

If you’ve recently had an accident and are suffering from one or more of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from whiplash.

• Pain and stiffness in the neck

• Headache

• Dizziness

• Tiredness and fatigue

• Jaw pain

• Pain and stiffness in the shoulder

• Pain or weakness in the arm

• Back pain

• Problems with your sight (blurred vision and difficulty focusing, for example)

• Tinnitus (a constant ringing in your ears)

However, none of these symptoms are exclusive to whiplash, so we’d recommend you book an appointment with your GP or a professional physiotherapist to make sure your condition isn’t more severe.

Home Care Tips For Whiplash

You may think that prolonged periods of rest will aid the healing process – but keeping your neck still could actually do more damage than good. Keep your neck mobile by carrying out some gentle neck exercises.

Take painkillers. Common analgesics such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen will take the edge off the pain and thereby enable you to move more easily, which loosens up the tight, tense muscles around the injury. If you’re in severe pain, your doctor may choose to prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Naproxen to help settle the inflammation.

Apply cold packs and ice to the area for 20 minute intervals for 48 hours after the accident to help ease the swelling. If you don’t have an ice pack to hand, a bag of frozen vegetables will have exactly the same effect.

Wrap up the cold compress in a towel so that you don’t apply the ice directly to the skin.

Keep strenuous activities to a minimum while the injury is healing. Be careful not to aggravate the injury by sitting down for long periods of time, lifting heavy loads, sitting or lying with bad posture or doing any vigorous exercise.

Seeking Professional Advice

You should find that your whiplash symptoms should slowly disappear on their own without any further complications. However, if you’re still in pain a week or so after the event that caused the injury, it could be time to visit a physiotherapist. He or she will use a variety of techniques to help restore function and movement and will be able to teach you simple neck strengthening exercises that can be carried out at home. Your physio will also check to ensure that your whiplash symptoms are not an indication of a more serious problem, such as a compressed nerve or instability.

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