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What to Expect When Calling a Whiplash Doctor

What to Expect When Calling a Whiplash Doctor

If you’re an athlete, or were in a car accident, you may have whiplash. Neck injuries happen when the head whips forward and backward violently, stretching ligaments, muscles, and tendons. A whiplash doctor from Bayside Physical Therapy has the skills, cutting-edge technology, and resources to treat your injury and help you get back to your day-to-day routine. Learn the symptoms, causes, treatment, and diagnosis methods for whiplash.

Causes of Whiplash

While patients may only know one or two causes of this condition, a whiplash injury doctor knows more. Car accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, are among the most common causes of whiplash injuries. Muscles in the neck may also become overextended if a person endures a physical assault, such as punching or shaking. Similarly, contact sports accidents could lead to injuries that require treatment for whiplash.

Symptoms

Before seeing a whiplash doctor, a person may first want to make sure she or he has the condition and not a different type of neck injury. Common symptoms of whiplash include dizziness, limited range of motion, muscle spasms, memory problems, neck stiffness, neck pain that increases with movement, and limb weakness or numbness.

Symptoms do not always look the same for everyone who experiences whiplash. Some patients experience irritability, blurred vision, depression, trouble focusing, and ringing in their ears.

Something to remember about symptoms of this problem is that they may not appear immediately after an injury. Sometimes, a person may not notice symptoms until a few days later.

Complications

Usually, those with whiplash experience relief after a few days. Sometimes, a person experiences complications that make the injury persist for several months or years. Risk factors for experiencing complications include advanced age, experiencing an injury at high speed, and existing neck or back pain. A patient who had whiplash before may experience more complications. Those most likely to experience chronic pain are patients with initial symptoms such as pain that spreads to the limbs, intense neck pain, and a more-restrained range of motion.

Diagnosis of the Issue

To ensure patients receive the right whiplash treatment, a doctor must first diagnose them properly. Most healthcare providers ask patients to describe their symptoms and the events leading up to the injury. A patient may undergo range-of-motion testing and answer questions about how often symptoms occur.

During physical examinations for this issue, patients move their arms, head, and neck. While moving and completing physical tasks, a whiplash injury doctor checks the patient’s range of motion and degree of motion that triggers or worsens pain. The examination also checks tenderness in the person’s back, neck and shoulders.

Before recommending treatment for whiplash, healthcare providers may use imaging tests. Rather than conducting tests to diagnose the condition, doctors instead use them to rule out other possible healthcare issue. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing combines radio waves and magnetic fields to create in-depth 3D images, which also detect soft-tissue injuries. 

Computerized tomography (CT) X-ray scans create cross-sectional pictures of bones, and X-rays pinpoint neck arthritis, fractures, cervical spine injuries, and dislocations. 

Treatment From a Whiplash Doctor

Treatment aims to help patients return to their regular activities, provide pain relief, and regain range of motion in their neck. Injury severity determines the treatment plan, meaning that some physical therapist or personalized pain relief treatment.

Rest, cold and hot compresses, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture can help patients manage the pain caused by whiplash.

To regain their range of motion, patients may perform movement and stretching exercises at home. Examples of exercises include shoulder rolls, neck rotations, neck bends, and head tilts. Before exercising, it may help to apply moist heat to painful areas.

Some patients need help with range-of-motion exercises or chronic whiplash pain. A doctor may recommend physical therapy to regain regular movement, improve posture, and build muscles. Sometimes, physical therapists use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to build muscle strength and ease neck discomfort. How long a person undergoes physical therapy varies from patient to patient.

To address pain, a patient may use a foam collar or neck brace that limits range of motion for the neck. Doctors must instruct patients to use foam collars carefully, as wearing them too long could affect a patient’s recovery time or weaken muscles. Patients should make sure they do not wear collars longer than a whiplash doctor recommends.

Call Us Today

If you think you have this type of injury, seek treatment for whiplash from an experienced whiplash injury doctor. Bayside Physical Therapy has over 40 years of professional experience, and our patients have access to a multi-disciplinary team. Schedule an appointment by calling 718-229-4878 or submitting an online form. We accept no-fault insurance, workers’ compensation, and other insurance plans.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/whiplash/symptoms-causes/syc-20378921 

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/bones-joints-and-muscles/when-to-see-a-doctor-for-whiplash