The colloquial term “whiplash” refers to a constellation of injuries to neck muscles, tendons and ligaments. Rear-end auto collisions stand-out as by far the leading cause of whiplash injuries, but falls and sports accidents also cause serious neck injuries. There are numerous well documented car accidents that resulted in substantial compensation, but getting injured is something you want to avoid. Typically, whiplash patients experience sudden, violent force to the head followed by equally sudden force in the opposite direction. Both shocks force neck tissue to stretch well beyond its normal range of motion, and hyper-extension causes bruising, tearing or rupture. Your physician probably will not use the term whiplash, instead specifying you have a cervical sprain, a hyper-extension injury, or a severe cervical strain.
Symptoms may not develop right away, and it may take up to 48 hours for pain and stiffness to become severe enough you feel the need of medical attention. The more quickly you develop acute symptoms, the more serious your injury. In the worst cases, you will feel dizziness, headache, nausea, and extreme pain and stiffness in your neck, extending through your shoulders and down your arms. When you experience these symptoms, seek immediate trauma care. Even more importantly, if you lost consciousness during the incident, you immediately must seek a neurologist’s attention.
Traditional practitioners will recommend alternating treatments with heat and ice, and they will prescribe powerful—and extremely addictive—pain relievers. You may prefer natural remedies. For treatment of neck injuries, naturopaths recommend…
• proper therapy and rehabilitation. Consult a chiropractor or licensed massage therapist for several therapeutic and rehabilitative sessions there are chiropractors in every part of the country you can visit a chiropractor to review this problem. Because lactates and free radicals accumulate in injured tissue, your muscles need stimulation to increase blood flow and promote cleansing. Just as importantly, stiffness results from sustained muscle contractions, so that your tissues need proper stretching. Certified professionals know proper techniques have sophisticated touch for soothing soreness and relieving pain. Experienced homeopaths may also offer herbal, aromatherapeutic topical pain relievers that work as well as dangerous prescriptions.
• effective pain relief. Reliable studies have shown that deep relaxation has the same pain-reducing effect as two Valium. In order to trigger your body’s release of its own feel-good chemicals, meditate with a focus or mantra and perfectly rhythmic breathing, remaining quiet and still for at least twenty minutes. You may doze; try not to fall asleep. If you are a proficient swimmer, you will get many of the same benefits from slow steady laps in the pool, and breathing on alternate sides will help you recover your strength and mobility.
• gentle exercise to rebuild strength. Viniyoga, the gentlest and most soothing among the several styles of yoga, combines the benefits of meditation with gentle exercise to stretch and strengthen every one of the body’s major muscle systems. Physicians often prescribe Viniyoga practice for arthritis patients or others with chronic pain and soreness. Choose Viniyoga over the other, more aggressive styles, because your guide will emphasize slow, smooth transitions from pose to pose, and then will emphasize deep breathing and balance in each pose. The combination of exercise and breathing will improve circulation to and through your sore muscles.
• neck support. Contrary to popular belief, the braces you sometimes see encircling accident victims’ necks do very little to promote recovery or ease pain. In many cases, personal injury attorneys encourage their clients to don the braces for court appearances, adding a little drama to their pleas for pain and suffering. They are better as props than proper support. To promote proper healing in your muscles and ligaments, make sure you have adequate support during sleep, pay attention to good posture while you are sitting-up, and make sure you rest your neck during the day. Immobilizing your neck for long periods does more harm than good, causing muscles to stiffen and restricting blood-flow to injured tissues.
Medical researchers at Johns-Hopkins University, the nation’s premier medical school, have devoted over a decade to controlled studies of natural remedies. In the majority of their tests, investigators have documented how natural practices work nearly as well as more invasive procedures. In all of their studies, though, researchers have found that modern and natural therapies complement one another and synergize to promote quicker, more complete healing. Therefore, if you seek relief from neck injuries, go with best practices from the science guys and homeopaths. “All of the above” is the right answer.