UGH, whiplash. If you have ever had it, you know just how painful this condition can be! If you haven’t had it, consider yourself lucky. If you know someone who is suffering from this right now, this article will be very beneficial.
Let’s face it, not everyone can head off to their chiropractor whenever they like. While chiropractic care remains the best way to deal with whiplash, we understand that, for a variety of reasons, sometimes this just isn’t possible. Or isn’t possible right now, at least.
For those of you who either can’t get to the chiropractor or can’t get there for a few days (or maybe even a few weeks!) we would like to tell you about some whiplash home remedies out there to help relieve the pain and allow you to get some sleep.
What is Whiplash?
In short, whiplash is the term used when you injure your neck due to a rapid back and forth movement, very much like the movement of a whip, hence the name.
While this typically happens in car accidents, it can also occur on amusement park rides, slip and fall type of accidents, and sports injuries.
The pain you feel is due to the violent and sudden motion of the neck muscles, which pull the ligaments far outside their normal range. It also can involve the muscles themselves, nerve roots, discs, and the intervertebral joints of the neck.
How Will I Know if I Have Whiplash?
The answer to this is “you will know.” This is like asking “How will I know if I’ve sprained my ankle?” This is a pain you won’t mistake for something else.
Common whiplash injury symptoms include:
- Moderate to intense neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Headaches (most often at the base of the skull)
- Shoulder pain
- Sleep problems
- Blurry vision
- Problems with concentration
Not everyone gets all of the above symptoms, other than the pain and stiffness, which, depending on the extent of the injury, can be quite severe.
The Long-Term Effects of Whiplash
Unfortunately, those with the worst neck pain and extreme neck stiffness are usually the ones who end up with chronic whiplash pain. One study backs this up and found that even if a patient experienced nausea or vomiting, if they had lower pain levels, they would recover more quickly than those with severe neck pain.
This is why receiving treatment as soon as possible is so important.
How long will it take whiplash to heal? That would depend on many factors, including the severity of the injury, the age and overall health of the patient, if there were any prior injuries, etc. For most people, whiplash will heal within 2-4 weeks.
Can whiplash be cured? Yes. With time and proper treatment, almost everyone will recover from whiplash.
Does Whiplash Happen Immediately?
While most people feel whiplash pain within a few hours after an accident, others don’t feel any pain or stiffness for as long as 48 hours. Whiplash symptoms can be delayed because adrenaline frequently masks pain signals.
Symptoms can also be delayed as the nerves, discs, and muscles settle after the initial impact.
How Can I Get Rid of Whiplash Pain Now?
When you can’t get to your chiropractor, you can try some of these home remedies to relieve pain and get you through the night.
Home Remedy #1 – Ginger
Before you give us a raspberry and close the page, hear us out. Ginger is a well-known anti-inflammatory. It is also a great way to stop feelings of nausea and vomiting.
If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting or dizziness because of your whiplash, you can reduce these feelings by drinking one or two cups of ginger tea each day.
Ginger supplements can also help these types of feelings, but they take longer to work for nausea. However, ginger supplements can work wonders for stopping inflammation. When you control inflammation, you will reduce pain levels.
Of course, don’t take any supplements if you are taking prescription drugs. Speak with your pharmacist, doctor, or chiropractor first to avoid a possible drug interaction.
An alternative is to soak in a bath that contains ginger. Use a teaspoon of ground ginger or a half a cup of freshly grated ginger. (Do not use this method if you are pregnant) Ginger will increase your body temperature, bringing fresh blood to the damaged tissue in your neck and shoulders. The warm water from the bath will also relax the muscles and can help stop spasms.
Home Remedy #2 – Essential Oils
Homeopathic remedies don’t have a great deal of science to back them up, but the thousands of people who clamor for these healing compounds will tell you differently.
Essential oils are said to reduce inflammation, relax the muscles, and speed healing to injured areas. Some of the most recommended essential oils for whiplash include:
- Lavender-This scent is known to relax both mind and body.
- Peppermint-A well-known remedy for stomach upset, it is said to be a natural analgesic when applied topically.
- Helichrysum- Otherwise known as Chrysanthemum, this essential oil is believed to contain both analgesic and antispasmodic compounds.
- Rosemary-Studies have shown that rosemary can improve your memory and many people state that this oil has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, and carminative compounds that make it nearly perfect for neck pain, including whiplash.
Never consume essential oils as these are for topical use only. If you have sensitive skin, test a small area first before using on your neck and shoulders.
Home Remedy #3 – CBD Oil or Cream
Scientists are only just discovering the many ways that cannabinoids can heal and stop pain. Even the National Institutes of Health agree that cannabinoids have analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory compounds that improve circulation and cause cell regeneration.
You should be able to find CBD creams or oils in most major cities. If not, you can always order these online. Since they do not contain THC, you won’t get high and they aren’t illegal.
Use this type oil or cream two or more times per day to stop pain and stimulate the body to heal itself.
Home Remedy #4 – Ice/Heat Therapy
Ice must be one of the oldest home remedies for all types of pain, hands down. You might be asking, which is better for whiplash, ice or heat? The answer is both.
For the first 48 hours, the answer is ice. Icing your neck, including the shoulders if they also hurt, will reduce swelling, limit inflammation, and can provide excellent relief from pain.
After 48 hours, heat therapy should be applied. Heat will loosen tight muscles and bring fresh blood to the area, along with its healing nutrients and oxygen.
After the initial 48 hours, you can also alternate heat and ice therapy.
Never apply ice directly to the skin as you can give yourself a nasty burn. Cover ice with a cloth before placing it on the skin.
Home Remedy #5 – How to Sleep with Whiplash
Getting a good night’s rest when you have whiplash can be very difficult. Every little movement seems to bring a jolt of pain to your neck!
Try these time-tested tips to get some rest when you have whiplash:
1) Whiplash Treatment Exercises.
Rather than exercise, perhaps a more appropriate word would be stretching. You can do exercises to strengthen your neck after the pain has subsided. For now, focus on very, very gentle stretching. Move your head from side to side and up and down but very slowly and very gently. If it hurts, stop! Stretch your neck only if you don’t feel pain when doing so. A few gentle stretches before bed can help to stop muscle spasms and cramps.
2) Chamomile Tea
This type of tea is very relaxing and will not only make you feel a bit sleepy, but it also makes your muscles relax as well. Drink no more than 2 cups about 30 minutes before bed.
3) Experiment with Pillows
You should experiment with a few different types of pillows before you try to sleep. Some people find that memory foam pillows designed for those who snore are very helpful, while others want a pillow that is very flat. There is also water filled pillows that can be adjusted to suit your needs.
Some people find that simply rolling up a towel and placing it under their neck provides good enough pain relief that they can sleep.
5) Think Outside the Bed
Of course, if you find that you simply cannot get comfortable in bed, try sleeping elsewhere. You might find a reclining chair works well for you, the sofa, or even a futon. Don’t give up until you find the right solution that suits you.
The Bottom Line
We know how badly whiplash can hurt and that finding pain relief is important. Pain stresses the body and after you’ve had an accident or injury, more stress is the last thing you need.
You can get on the road to healing whiplash with Better Health Juneau’s Get-a-Ride promise which ensures they will get to and from their chiropractic appointment without any cost to them. Please feel free to call us for a no-obligation, same-day appointment. We will happily check your insurance coverage and will never pressure you to try any treatment plan you don’t want.
Call one of our three clinics in Alaska today to make an online appointment. You don’t have to live with the pain of whiplash and we want to help!