PT eDigest

hilariousimageoftwowomenMinor Accident, Major Pain

Fender benders with your car typically cause more annoyance than trauma. After exchanging insurance information, assessing the damage to your car and silently cursing the other driver for texting instead of watching the road, you will probably just go on with your day. But several hours later, you feel a deep ache in your neck, shoulders and head. What is going on?

Even a small tap from the car behind you can cause whiplash, a soft tissue injury of the neck that results from your head’s jolting forward, backward or to the side during the impact. Many people do not feel symptoms until hours or even days later, but when they begin, there is no denying them.

The ligaments and muscles in the neck can be stretched or otherwise damaged by whiplash. That can cause:

  • pain and stiffness in the neck
  • occasional pain and stiffness in the shoulders, arms or back
  • headaches
  • brief dizziness or blurred vision
  • trouble bending or turning your neck
  • strange sensations in the jaw or face

Soft tissue neck injuries are relatively easy to treat. We may recommend ice and heat therapy, as well as the intermittent use of a supportive neck collar or device. We can also help with the common side effect of muscle spasms.

But the best course of action in most cases is to keep the neck moving with gentle range-of-motion exercises, which can be performed in a therapy setting as well as at home. It may seem counterintuitive to move more when you are in pain, but exercise releases natural pain relievers in your body that can help with the discomfort. Strengthening the muscles and ligaments around your injury will help you return to normal movements. (Have you ever tried tying your shoes with a sore neck? It’s not pleasant.)

Contact us—we can help you speed up relief and attain recovery.