Treating Delayed Whiplash Injuries

Category: Neck Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Delayed Whiplash Pain

Whiplash is one of the most common ways people injure the cervical portion of their spine. Severe whiplash is most common in automobile accidents, but it can also occur during athletic activity or during any action where you are thrust forward or backward in a violent motion. Whiplash is kind of a unique condition, because unlike common fractures or lacerations, sometimes symptoms don’t appear right after the moment of injury. Today, we take a look at the best way to treat cervical whiplash injuries that don’t show up right away.

Why Are Symptoms Delayed?

The reasons whiplash symptoms oftentimes don’t show up right away is closely tied to the most common cause of whiplash, which is a car accident. If you’ve ever been in a car accident, even if it’s only a minor fender bender, you probably remember that it you were kind of “going through the motions” instead of having a clear focus in the moments after the accident. That’s because a car accident is a very stressful occurrence, and that stress triggers a chemical response from our body.

Similar to our natural fight or flight response, immense stress triggers the body to protect itself by producing extra adrenaline and endorphins. These chemicals give you more energy and help mask the pain, which is a basic survival instinct. It’s a great natural response to have, but it can also hinder our ability to realize that we are in pain and in need of treatment. These effects don’t wear off when you walk away from the accident or when you get back home either, as the effects of these chemicals can linger for days or even weeks. That’s why it’s common to hear that people are more sore a day or two after a car accident than immediately after the wreck.

Treating Delayed Whiplash of the Cervical Spine

The best way to treat delayed whiplash is to be proactive about potential problems before they set in. This is easier said than done, because if you don’t believe you’re injured, you’re not going to seek medical treatment. But the best advice we can give for anyone who has been in a car accident is to seek out an evaluation from a medical professional. They’ll be able to diagnose ligament or soft tissue injuries in the neck that have yet to rear their ugly heads, and they can help set you up with a treatment regimen to stay out ahead of the problem.

Other tips for treating delayed whiplash include:

  • Seeking out a medical evaluation as soon as symptoms set in.
  • Stick with your physical therapy program, even if symptoms seem to be resolving.
  • Take a break from certain physical activities that may exacerbate neck pain.
  • Consider a soft neck brace after an accident, even if no symptoms are present.
  • Write down symptoms (and details from the accident) soon after the accident, because it may be harder to recall specifics once the adrenaline has worn off.

If you’ve suffered a cervical spine injury in a car accident or after another event, do yourself a favor and seek out an evaluation by a spine specialist in your area. The best way to treat delayed whiplash injuries is by being proactive about your treatment, and a back specialist can help you do just that. Contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office for more information.

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