Whiplash: it comes on in an instant, but can stay with you for quite some time. Between neck pain and stiffness, loss of range of motion in the neck, headaches, and dizziness, the laundry list of unpleasant symptoms is enough to keep anyone from enjoying day-to-day life.
The good news is that there are some great options to manage and improve your whiplash condition at home. Below we’ll walk you through some of the best ways to treat whiplash with conservative care, how to manage the pain, and mitigating side-effect discomforts so that you can live your best life.
What You Can Do For Whiplash At Home
Let’s start with what you don’t want to do for whiplash. Along with the discomfort that accompanies whiplash, it’s easy to want to immobilize or rest the neck. Resist this urge! Though some extra rest within the first 24-48 hours of the incident can be helpful, ultimately you want to encourage some gentle range of motion. Complete rest can get in the way of that and actually do more harm than good.
As far as managing whiplash at home, you’ll want to focus on a couple of key components: pain management and range of motion.
Pain Management For Whiplash
Pain management for each case of whiplash can vary significantly person-to-person, and of course, depends on the severity of the original accident. Some of the more serious cases do require prescription pain medication, muscle relaxants, or injections, but these routes shouldn’t be jumped to automatically. As always, consult with your doctor first, but there are other gentle modalities that help provide many whiplash victims with some serious relief.
As far as conservative at-home care options go, a great route to explore initially is alternating the application of both heat and cold to the affected area. A hot or cold pack can be applied to the neck (make sure to keep a towel in between to protect your skin!) in 15-minute increments up to six times per day. Make a mental note of which temperature provides you more relief. Some also find that alternating the temperatures to be very beneficial.
Gentle massage to the neck and shoulder area can also provide pain relief. The key here is not to get too aggressive with this kind of massage. Try asking a family member or spouse to gently massage the area in small circles, to your tolerance. Of course, use pain and discomfort as your guiding indicator. If the massage is making your pain worse, stop it immediately. You should also pay attention to how your pain changes in the hours and days following the massage. Again, if you’re noticing a significant increase in pain, this signals that your neck may not be ready for massage quite yet.
Exercises For Whiplash
Being able to help yourself at home can be hugely empowering during an injury. When you’re recovering from whiplash, it’s easy to get overzealous and want to do too much, too soon. Keep in mind that these exercises are best done in moderation, and with the prescribed help from a medical professional. Use pain as a guide; if you feel any increase in pain, stop the exercise immediately.
These are about as simple as they sound! Sit upright in a chair with a neutral posture and rotate your neck to look over your shoulder in one direction slowly, until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds before gently bringing your head back to the center. Repeat on each side 5-10 times, or as tolerated.
Again, begin this exercise by sitting in a neutral, relaxed position. Keep your gaze forward while slowly tilting your head down toward your shoulder, using that gentle stretching sensation as your stopping point. Hold this end range position for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning your head back to the center. Repeat on each side 5-10 times, or as tolerated.
Stay in your seated position for this exercise. Slowly lower your head toward your chest, tucking your chin as you go. Gently lift back up and return your head to neutral. Repeat 5 times.
How Can Chiropractic Help Treat Whiplash?
Incorporating consistent chiropractic into your routine is a great way to stay on top of overall health and particularly neck and back pain. The gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities that your chiropractor may perform can help to alleviate pressure in your joints, decrease inflammation, and allow your entire body to function optimally. That’s a huge win in your journey back to full health.
On top of this, your practitioner may also recommend appropriate at-home exercises specific to your injury history to perform outside of the office. These simple exercises can go a long way in making noticeable gains toward recovery.
Don’t delay your health any longer; schedule your chiropractic appointment online or call (865) 675-2050.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.