Neck pain and back pain are among the most common types of chronic pain in America. Among the disorders that can cause significant neck pain is a condition called whiplash. Whiplash pain is a very common condition diagnosed at Knoxville pain clinics and is typically the result of sudden extension and flexion caused by a sudden impact in a car crash. In fact, a research study in 2005 found that a significant proportion of individuals with chronic neck pain – pain that lasts three months or longer – were originally injured in a motor vehicle accident.
What causes whiplash pain?
Whiplash, also known as a neck strain or sprain, is a soft tissue that commonly occurs as the result of a car crash. Whiplash may include an injury to intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and even the nerve roots. Whiplash pain does not have to appear immediately. In fact, you may not experience any whiplash pain the day of the car accident, only to find that whiplash pain occurs several days later. Some people also have trouble thinking, feel depressed or have other cognitive difficulties. Many people who experience this condition report a stiff neck as well.
What causes chronic whiplash pain?
Usually, neck and head pain caused by whiplash only lasts several days to several weeks. Sometimes, however, the injury will last several months. Most patients recover within a few months of the injury, however, others experience chronic neck or back pain.
It may take up to 48 hours for the symptoms of a whiplash injury to appear, and it can take weeks or months for the injury to resolve.
What other conditions cause chronic neck pain?
If you’re experiencing long-term pain from an accident, you’re not alone. Sometimes you’ll have another condition, such as a herniated disc, pinched nerve or degenerative disc disease that could contributing to your pain. Your physician will do an exam and perform tests to rule out other causes for your pain.
Other injuries can result as a result of whiplash. Improper healing of soft tissue injuries can cause arthritis and long-term pain. Sometimes your doctor will also find that bone spurs have formed around the nerves of the spine, causing spinal stenosis, a condition that involving both neck and back pain around the disc and facet joints.
How can I find relief from chronic pain?
Various studies indicate many people with whiplash pain recover within 2-3 months, but according to a Quebec Task Force, WAD study, 85% of the patients recover within 6 months. Recovery depends on the severity of the injury, proper treatment and recognition of other co-existing conditions.
Medical treatment for whiplash depends on the injury and any complications you may experience, such as arthritic pain or pinched nerves. Most treatment is directed at symptom relief and regaining your range of motion. The prognosis for recovery from whiplash is usually quite good, however, some severe neck injuries associated with the spinal may require surgery.