Headaches or Neck Pain That Won’t Go Away: It Could Be Whiplash

Maybe you were in a car accident.  Maybe you slipped and fell.  Maybe you were hit during a sport or athletic activity. You might feel fine afterward, shake it off, even go back into playing a game.

Even if not symptomatic, an injured party will need to have their head examined and be evaluated in the E.R. or by a doctor for concussion signs and symptoms. If severe impact is believed to have been sustained, health care professionals may order scans of the brain.

It’s certainly vital to check the head to see if the brain is bleeding which could be fatal. At the same time,  it’s important to examine the neck and surrounding muscles, too. If you have sustained a concussion you more than likely have experienced whiplash in addition, based on these facts.

How much force does it take to sustain a concussion?

Like so many of you,  I used to think it took unimaginable force to inflict something as serious as a concussion. But I was wrong…

Concussions deliver 95 g’s to the human body upon impact.”

Science Daily

Football players often sustain much more than that during tackles.  It’s not much force needed but, oh, what damage it can cause.

And what about whiplash?

Do you know how much impact it takes to cause damage to ligaments in the neck as well as cause injury to the cervical discs? The answer is a measly 3.5 g’s, says the Technology Associates Engineering Experts. That’s why even low impact car accidents can cause severe whiplash neck injury.  (Not sure what whiplash is? Learn more about it here).

While it’s clear as day if you’re experiencing pain in your neck, back, spine that you may have a cervical injury.  What if you have no neck pain, but are still suffering from daily debilitating headaches, destabilizing dizziness, or motion sickness and nausea?  You could very likely still have a serious injury in which the pain is stemming from the neck. I know for me, general practice doctors and neurologists seemed to be chanting in unison, “Your symptoms are from post-concussion syndrome and that just requires time to heal.”

It was only after deciding to see a chiropractor that I felt my life was back in my own hands.  Not Father Time’s.  My chiropractor specialized in sports medicine and ordered x-rays immediately after my first consultation.  The results unearthed a surprising source of my pain (well, not so surprising to me, more so to my primary care doctor. I mean, the neck pain was and at times still is, unbearable to me. Don’t even get me started on the cervicogenic headaches I was experiencing on the daily).

The x-rays showed that I had a flattened cervical lordosis. What’s that, you ask? Well, you know how your spine is supposed to have that nice c-curve? Mine straightened out due to a whiplash injury. Even better? I also had sublaxed vertebra below c4. That meant my vertebra were squashed sideways. Ouch is right.

Which treatment methods are the best at curing cervical pain?

In my experience, a holistic treatment plan that incorporated several disciplines along with seeing my primary care physician and neurologist.

  • Chiropractic sessions to realign some wayward vertebra and correct spine.
  • Physical therapy to release myofascial pain in the neck and shoulders.
  • Vestibular therapy to clear associated issues such as BPPV leading to dizziness and lack of balance.
  • Neuroopthamology to deal with light sensitivity and eye strain that increased headaches. (Read more about this here).
  • Physical and rehabilitation medicine specialty to develop a comprehensive treatment plan to address all my symptoms.

Frequently, primary care physicians, neurologists and others medical professionals will prescribe patients pills to ease the pain. While these are often necessary and can be beneficial sometimes, taking drugs can mask the symptoms; this in turn makes it harder to treat and relieve the real source of your pain. The goal is not only for relief now but for also a sustained pain-free state for the long-term.

So what can be done as an alternative to pain meds?

You need to finds ways to lift the strain on the nerves, muscles, and discs of the neck, shoulders and back. This is where chiropractic adjustments can come into play.  It’s rampantly debated among the medical field as to the usefulness and safety of chiropractic treatment.  Some doctors preach that it causes more harm than good and may even go so far as to frame them as ‘quacks.’ This is due to a lack of education or research on the subject. It’s best to seek out specialists that focus on the cervical area specifically. Even better if the specialist is well-informed on post-concussion syndrome and working with neck injuries.

Other doctors take a more modern approach and can help you facilitate a plan that encompasses many different types of treatment.  For instance, many suffering concussions and neck injuries find acupuncture a helpful part of alleviating symptoms like headaches,  dizziness,  nausea and more.

Bottom Line

Whatever treatment options you choose, make sure you always consult your primary care doctor and keep him or her in the loop. As you navigate the tirelessly turbulent waters that characterize concussion and whiplash injuries, keep in mind one thing: You are not alone.

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