If you have been involved in a car accident, whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously. Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back.
The symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, and too often people do not seek treatment simply because they do not feel hurt. But unfortunately, by the time more serious complications develop, some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent. Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries. If you have been in a motor vehicle or any other kind of accident, do not assume that you escaped injury if you are not currently in pain.
It is the most common complaint in whiplash trauma, being reported by over 90% of the patients. Whiplash injuries tend to affect all areas in the neck, including muscles, ligaments, nerves, facet joints, and discs between the vertebrae. Often this pain radiates across the shoulders, up into the head, and down between the shoulder blades. Our providers can do Epidurals and cervical Radiofrequency ablation procedure to tackle neck pain.
Facet Joint Pain
Facet joint pain is the most common cause of neck pain following a car accident. It is usually felt on the back of the neck, just to the right or left of center, and is usually tender to the touch. Facet joint pain cannot be visualized on X-rays or MRIs, so in order to assess if it is truly a facet problem that is causing cervical spondylosis, two diagnostic medical branch blocks are performed. This is a tool used by doctors to see if the pain is truly from the facet joint and not due to a muscle or ligament tear.
Disc injury is another common cause of neck pain, and especially chronic pain. The outer wall of the disc (called the anulus) is made up of bundles of fibers that can be torn during a whiplash trauma. This tear can lead to disc herniation or degeneration, resulting in irritation or compression of the nerves running through the area. This compression or irritation commonly leads to radiating pain to the arms, shoulders, and upper back, and may result in muscle weakness.
In case of a herniated disc, our providers can do many things, such as prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants or do trigger point injections and epidural spinal injections.
After neck pain, headaches are the most prevalent complaint among those suffering from whiplash injury, affecting more than 80% of the people. While some headaches are actually the result of direct brain injury, most are related to injury of the muscles, ligaments, and facet joints of the cervical spine, that refer pain to the head. Our providers work to assess the true cause of the headaches and work with you to make an individualized plan of care. We provide Botox injections and Third Occipital Nerve Blocks for management of these headaches.
A less common, but very debilitating disorder that results from whiplash is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). TMJ usually begins as pain, clicking and popping noises in the jaw during movement. If not rigorously evaluated and treated, TMJ problems can continue to worsen and lead to headaches, facial pain, ear pain and difficulty eating. Our providers can do nerve blocks on the trigeminal or occipital nerves to treat the pain arising from TMJ.
Low Back Pain
Although most people consider whiplash to be an injury of the neck only, the low back is also commonly injured as well. In fact, low back pain is found in more than half of rear impact-collisions in which injury was reported, and almost three-quarters of all side-impact crashes. This is mostly due to the fact that the low back still experiences a tremendous compression during the time of injury, even though it does not have the degree of flexion-extension injury experienced in the neck. Our providers recommend getting Epidurals or Radiofrequency Ablation procedure for pain relief.