What You Might Experience When Recovering From Whiplash

If you've been in a vehicle accident recently and have neck pain, you may suspect you have whiplash. However, you can also get whiplash in other ways. For instance, if you fall or get body-slammed playing sports, you can get whiplash too. The pain may not start right away, so when you develop a sore neck a day or two later, you may have no idea what caused it. Whiplash can vary in intensity as well. You might recover in several days with a mild case, while a more severe case could take months to heal. Here's what to expect when recovering from whiplash.

Pain When Moving Your Head

Whiplash injures the tendons and muscles in your neck. The sudden jerking movement of your head when you're hit or when you fall can strain the tendons or muscles and make tiny tears. The tears cause irritation and inflammation that make it painful to move your head. The pain may start immediately or it could take a day or two for it to develop. You'll notice something is wrong when it hurts your neck to move your head from side to side. The pain may be an aggravation or it could be severe.

Try applying ice to your neck right after the injury. This will help with swelling. It's a good idea to visit your doctor for an evaluation of your injury, and to receive proper care. Your doctor may advise you to take over-the-counter pain relievers. If your pain is severe, you might be given prescription painkillers. You might even be given anesthetic injections in your neck to dull the pain. The pain should gradually get better as your neck heals. In some instances, the nerve in your neck could become pinched and cause chronic neck problems.

Limited Range Of Motion In Your Neck

Another symptom you may experience as you recover from whiplash is neck stiffness. You may have a very limited range of motion that keeps you from turning your head fully. The stiffness could be caused by inflammation so your doctor may advise you to take anti-inflammatory medications until you can move your neck freely. Another cause of limited range of motion is the formation of scar tissue during the healing process.

If scar tissue develops in the wrong place, you may have difficulty turning your head all the way. This problem can often be avoided by taking physical therapy treatments during your recovery from whiplash. Your doctor might want you to rest for a few days right after the injury, but being sedentary and wearing a foam collar for too many hours each day can interfere with your recovery. Your doctor will tell you when it's time to start stretching and exercising your neck. You'll be taught the correct way to perform the exercises so you can do them at home while you recover.

Once the initial phase of intense pain has passed in a few days, you can resume many of your usual activities. If you have a mild case of whiplash, you may not need to miss any work. You may be uncomfortable, but staying active could be beneficial to your healing. Just keep in mind, all cases of whiplash are different and people heal at different rates. Don't resume playing sports or engaging in other activities that could strain your neck until your doctor approves. Your neck should be fully recovered first so it won't be injured again due to its weakened state.