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Whiplash Woes: Consulting Spine Specialists in New York

Whiplash Woes: Consulting Spine Specialists in New York

If you suspect you have whiplash after a car accident or other incident, call (516) 355-0111 to see an expert at New York Spine Specialist. 

Even seemingly minor car collisions can result in injury, the most common being whiplash. The strain on your neck and spine from a forceful back-and-forth motion of the head can damage the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves, resulting in pain and other symptoms that can last long after the crash. Consulting with a spine specialist in New York about whiplash treatment as soon as possible can help prevent lasting effects.

The following comprehensive guide to whiplash will help you better understand your neck pain and why it’s so important to consult a doctor as soon as possible after any accident. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that most people recover from whiplash within three months with proper treatment. 

Why You Need to See a Whiplash Doctor Right Away 

Although vehicle accidents are the most common cause of whiplash injuries, they can also occur when playing sports, riding roller coasters, or even a sudden, high-impact fall. Anything that causes your neck to snap backward and forward suddenly can overstress your spine, muscles, soft tissues, and tendons in your neck, causing pain and reducing your range of motion. In some cases, the motion causes a sprain or fractures that result in acute and debilitating pain.

Seeing a whiplash doctor right away for a diagnosis and treatment can not only help you recover from that injury but also ensure you don’t have any additional injuries (like a concussion or broken bones) that may have long-term effects that worsen over time. Getting prompt medical care after an accident is also critical to successful insurance claims; without getting treatment right away, proving the crash caused your injuries is more challenging.

What Does Whiplash Feel Like?

It’s very common to sustain a whiplash injury and not realize it right away. The burst of adrenaline and other stress hormones during a car accident often masks the pain of the injury, and you won’t even realize something’s wrong until 24 hours (or more) later. 

Some of the signs that you have whiplash might include:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness that restricts neck movement
  • Shoulder and upper arm pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating 

In general, the sooner the symptoms appear after the accident, the more likely they are to get worse. Consulting a spine specialist for whiplash treatment can help with pain management and keep your condition from deteriorating to a point where it disrupts your normal activities. 

What Happens During a Whiplash Consultation 

When you seek whiplash treatment, you can expect the doctor to perform a thorough evaluation to determine the extent of the injuries and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. The typical consultation includes several parts.

Medical History Review

In addition to collecting details about the accident, including the estimated speed of the collision, what you experienced, and your symptoms since the incident, the doctor will review your medical history to determine whether any prior injuries or conditions are contributing to your current issues. 

Physical Assessment

Spine specialists evaluate the extent of your injury with physical exams. These include:

  • Checking the range of motion in your neck
  • Gauging how fast and far you can turn your neck
  • Evaluating your balance and how you walk to identify other affected body parts
  • Checking for tightness and tenderness in the neck that indicates ligament damage
  • Looking for signs of muscle spasms and disc herniation

Doctors perform most of these tests using touch and observation.

Imaging Tests

If the specialist suspects a significant injury, they may order diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays or MRI for a more detailed view.

How to Treat Whiplash and Make a Full Recovery

Although the popular image of a whiplash injury is patients wearing cervical collars to support their necks, wearing a collar doesn’t make a measurable difference to your recovery. 

A better approach to treating whiplash is to rest, then perform gentle stretches to improve circulation and reduce stiffness. In one study, a program of gentle exercises and stretching led to an almost immediate improvement in pain symptoms, and over 80% of the participants reported little to no pain after a year. Implementing heat and cold therapy, taking over-the-counter medications, and getting massages can also help reduce the pain and stiffness associated with whiplash injuries. 

Based on your diagnosis, the spine specialists may recommend additional treatments, including:

  • Physical therapy 
  • Chiropractic care
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to stimulate nerve function
  • Lifestyle changes 

Most whiplash treatment is non-invasive, and more than 50% of people recover without any further interventions. Surgery is rare; doctors typically only recommend surgery to stabilize your spine only when you fail to improve at all or when the whiplash causes additional issues, like spinal stenosis. 

Get Help After Car Accident from New York Spine Specialist 

If you have neck pain after an accident, make an appointment to see a provider at New York Spine Specialist and get on track to a full recovery. We provide the most comprehensive whiplash treatment in New York, and our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available, so call (516) 355-0111 now for help.

FAQ About Whiplash

Is there anything I shouldn’t do after a whiplash injury?

Avoid lifting heavy items or engaging in strenuous activity that strains your neck until your doctor tells you it’s okay to return to normal activity.

How common is whiplash?

The Spine Research Institute of San Diego reports that nearly three million people get whiplash every year, mostly from car accidents. 

What happens if I don’t seek whiplash treatment?

Seeing a doctor after a traumatic incident, even if you don’t think you have an injury, can prevent worsening pain that can affect other parts of your body and last for years. Without treatment, the damage may never heal completely.