Car accidents can be a very stressful, overwhelming experience, and adding an injury on top of that certainly doesn’t help. The most common car accident injury is actually whiplash, and it can cause pain and discomfort in your head, neck, back, and even shoulders. If you notice headaches, sore or stiff neck muscles, and pain in your back and shoulders then you might be diagnosed with whiplash. When considering treatment for whiplash there are a variety of doctors to choose from and you may want to select a doctor whose treatment style best fits what you are interested in.
How Different Doctors Approach Treatment for Whiplash
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, paramedics may arrive at the scene and assess you for injuries. Paramedics are trained to identify any obvious cuts, bruises, and determine whether you are in need of emergent care. If you are taken to the emergency room, you will likely be evaluated for a variety of common car accident injuries depending on your immediate symptoms. However, emergency doctors don’t provide the continued care and treatment that you need to fully heal from an injury like whiplash. In fact, symptoms of whiplash can often show up in the hours and days after the car accident, so you might not even realize how much pain or discomfort you are in at first.
Whiplash affects the muscles, bones, and even the nerves in your neck. Orthopedic doctors generally focus on the musculoskeletal system and how it is affected by an injury. Orthopedic doctors who specialize in car accident injuries can diagnose your whiplash injury and help treat your pain while developing a treatment plan that works best for you. When it comes to treating mild cases of whiplash, an orthopedic doctor may prescribe pain medications to help manage your discomfort and recommend icing the affected area. For more moderate to severe whiplash, neck pain is often present. An orthopedic doctor may have you wear a neck brace to help stabilize the spine in your neck and support your muscles and tendons as they heal from the stress.
When your spine is damaged it can affect nearby nerves and cause shooting pain, tingling, pins and needles sensation, and even numbness in certain areas. A neurologist will assess your nerve functioning and determine what may be putting pressure on a nerve or identify where nerve damage has occurred. A herniated disc can occur with whiplash as the force of the accident causes the disc in between two vertebrae in your neck to slip out of place. This can cause the disc to put pressure on a nearby nerve and lead to nerve pain and discomfort. More serious injuries can occur when a herniated disc is left untreated.
When the muscles in your neck are damaged from the accident it can affect your normal range of motion. Your muscles may now feel tender to the touch, feel stiff and sore, and even resist or cause serious pain on your head when you try to turn it. Swelling and inflammation in your neck can also contribute to pain when you try to look side to side or up and down. Physical therapists can help to restore your range of motion through a combination of massage, stretches, and exercises that will slowly encourage your muscles to regain strength. These techniques help to reduce inflammation and encourage healthy blood flow to your muscles so they can begin healing. Then a physical therapist may use gentle stretches and exercise techniques to slowly regain the range of motion in your neck. Physical therapies help when your injuries affect your ability to complete your regular daily tasks without pain and discomfort.
Chiropractors use gentle adjustments and natural, non-invasive chiropractic techniques as part of your treatment for whiplash. A chiropractor will identify how your spine, muscles, and nearby nerves have been knocked out of their proper positioning in the accident. Vertebrae in your spine may become misaligned with the force of the crash, which can cause pain and discomfort. It can also lead to the nearby muscles in your neck to overcompensate when trying to support your neck. When an out of place vertebrae or disc is realigned to its proper position it no longer puts pressure on nearby nerves and helps restore proper functioning.
Multi-Specialty Approach to Comprehensive Care
The multi-specialty team at AICA Orthopedics in College Park will work together to develop treatment for whiplash that will address your specific symptoms and address the root of the injury. Your team of car accident specialists will be skilled in treating whiplash and will work together to help you reach full healing and recovery.