One of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident is whiplash. This is what occurs when your neck is rapidly snapped forward and backward, straining the muscles in your neck.
As you may know, whiplash is quite painful and can persist for several weeks. Your suffering will depend on the severity of your whiplash, but you can still make yourself more comfortable while you heal.
This comes down to understanding what helps and what exacerbates your injury. Seemingly-common sense may wind up doing you more harm than good with whiplash.
Recovering from a neck injury certainly isn’t an easy process, but it’s doable if you have the right techniques at your disposal. To help you manage a whiplash injury, we’ll explain a few tips for easing your strain below.
One of the most important concepts you can practice is to stay active.
With most injuries, plenty of rest is often the best course of treatment. Sleep is very effective for healing your body and often expedites the recovery process.
However, rest is not necessarily the best remedy for whiplash. Resting for a few extra hours in the days following your injury is smart, but anything beyond that isn’t doing you any good.
The problem with whiplash is that you need to regain mobility as soon as possible. Resting tends to keep you in fairly still positions and doesn’t give your neck much room to move.
With this in mind, you need to stay active with a whiplash injury. This doesn’t mean that you should be engaging in high-contact sports immediately, but low-impact exercise is highly beneficial.
Two of the best activities you can do include stretching and physical therapy. Both are aimed at increasing your flexibility, which will restore mobility and ease your discomfort.
Regardless of what you choose, just be sure to pick something you can do daily that keeps your blood pumping.
Limit Further Strain
It’s also significant that you limit any further strain to your neck.
Exacerbating an injury is never a good idea and whiplash is no different. However, whiplash is a little trickier because neck injuries require special care.
The first part of this involves good posture. This means standing and sitting up straight, allowing for natural curvature of the spine. As your neck is part of your spine, it’s important to practice good posture to avoid placing extra pressure on already-weakened muscles.
Another important measure is to avoid rapidly moving your neck. Don’t quickly snap around when someone calls your name and try not to do things like moving your head quickly to music.
Lastly, you should try to keep your neck muscles as relaxed as possible. Consider massage, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to calm your entire body and neck.
Consider Pain Relief Options
You’ll likely also want to consider your pain relief options.
You should follow the directions of your doctor because they know what will work best for your situation. Do exactly as they say and reach out to them if you aren’t getting the relief that you need.
Whiplash is treated in a few different ways. This includes temperature therapy, over-the-counter painkillers, and prescription medications.
Temperature therapy will include things like ice packs and heating pads. Cold temperatures are good for reducing swelling while hot temperatures are good for loosening your muscles.
Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers will include your average pill taken for a headache or other minor pains. It includes painkillers like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Tylenol.
Prescription medications are best for more severe cases because they are more potent. You may be given a numbing agent, muscle relaxer, or antidepressant to help relieve the pain.
Temperature therapy and OTC painkillers are safe to use in moderation, but you’ll need a doctor’s script to get prescription medication. This is another reason why you should consult your doctor to see what treatment will be most effective.
Finally, you must make a point to avoid immobilization of your neck and body as a whole.
We mentioned earlier that it’s important to stay active. This is one part of staying mobile; the other being to explicitly avoid immobilizing your neck.
A common misconception with whiplash injuries is that immobilizing your neck is the smartest thing to do. Unfortunately, this is inaccurate because your goal is to regain mobility and full range of motion as soon as you can.
With this in mind, you should not wear a foam cervical collar. While this does support your neck, it doesn’t allow you to stretch and get the motion needed to effectively heal your whiplash.
Whiplash injuries are uncomfortable and frustrating to deal with. You’ll always feel a little stiff and pain is almost certain.
Fortunately, you can make life easier on yourself with the right strategies. This includes staying active, limiting further strain to your neck, considering your pain relief options, and avoiding the immobilization of your neck.
Using these tactics, you can resume a normal life without feeling held back. The more proactive you are about your recovery, the quicker you’ll feel healthy again!