Whiplash Residuals



Whiplash injuries result from sudden over extension of the neck usually caused by automobile accidents. Although Xray findings are often negative, pains in the neck and headache resulting from such injury may persist for years. Osteoarthritis of the cervical spine may be promoted by whiplash injuries and cause considerable disability. The gross stress reaction from this type of injury can also be disabling.

Aspirin and narcotics can give temporary relief of the pain but should not be taken for more than a few days. “Muscle relaxant” drugs are usually not very effective. Valium is frequently prescribed for relaxation, but it is addictive and has undesirable side effects. Major tranquilizers, such as Thorazine or Mellaril, have even more serious side effects, including damage to the brain and heart. Physiotherapy may be helpful in some cases if skillfully performed.

Acupuncture is the most effective and safest treatment for whiplash residuals. It relieves the muscle spasms and pain promptly, often during the first or second treatment. Six treatments are usually enough to give lasting relief, even after arthritis has been demonstrated by X-ray.

Many patients with whiplash residuals wear an orthopedic collar, which does more harm than good in most cases. These collars may aggravate muscle spasm and cause the patient to hold his neck in an unnatural position. They may also interfere with blood circulation and put pressure on nerves, thereby increasing pain.

Traction for whiplash injuries may relieve pain temporarily and be harmless if used for less than an hour at a time. Prolonged bedrest with traction, however, may promote hypostatic pneumonia or thrombophlebitis.

Neck surgery is extremely dangerous and seldom successful. Increased pain and/or quadriplegia have resulted too many times from surgery undertaken to relieve residual symptoms of whiplash.

To maximize the benefits of acupuncture and prevent the development of arthritis, patients should take at least two grams of Vitamin C and 200 mg. of pantothenic acid daily.