The medical treatment for whiplash depends on the severity of the injury. Severe neck injuries associated with bone or spinal cord damage may require surgical intervention. Less severe injuries are often limited to soft tissue injuries (muscles, ligaments, tendons) and treatment is directed at symptom relief.
Your doctor may prescribe a treatment plan including:
Pain medications (over-the-counter or prescription)
Narcotic pain medication may be necessary with severe whiplash
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) should be part of the treatment if the patient is able to take them
Benzodiazapine medications such as diazepam (Valium) may help muscle tightness and spasm
Other muscle relaxer drugs may also be used
A cervical collar may be used for the first few days, but use should be limited to the time period prescribed
Cold packs or ice can be applied to the neck to minimize swelling and pain. Apply ice/cold to the neck area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat every hour, as needed, for the first 48-72 hours after the injury.
Limit motion of the head and neck until pain and muscle tightness are gone.
Limit strenuous activities such as sports or heavy lifting.
Physical therapy with range of motion exercises, muscle strengthening, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be prescribed.
Non-traditional medical treatments such as chiropractic, massage, or acupuncture may be helpful for some patients in the treatment of whiplash. Consult your doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014
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