Whiplash injury occurs when there is a sudden movement of the shoulder joint. It could also cause an injury to the ligaments and muscles of the neck and shoulder. Whiplash typically occurs during a car crash upon sudden breaking or accelerating. Sports persons, athletes, and hair dressers etc are also at greater risk of neck pain resulting from whiplash. Thankfully, some time-tested remedies and good habits can prevent such injuries. We will discuss these remedies, supplements and other things to do at home for whiplash after a car accident.
1. Heat or cold for whiplash?
This is a common question people have when dealing with this type of injury. The answer is that you need to use BOTH. Start with cold first then follow up with heat. So, ice the neck for 15 minutes at a time. You can wrap up the ice in an old t-shirt to prevent your skin from getting numb. After the pain is better, use a hot compress. You can pour hot water in a glass bottle and apply it to the neck. Heat soothes the pain away and can help you sleep when suffering whiplash.
A self massage of the neck is another useful home remedy to manage pain and treat whiplash. Gently massage the neck with your fingers. You can also get a friend/family member to massage you gently. Apply very little pressure as you massage the muscles in the area. Go for an oil massage (olive coconut or Emu oil works best) before bath and then shower using hot water. This is one of the best ways of reducing tension in the neck and shoulders. Neck massagers are also available in the market and they do a neat job as well.
3. Whiplash treatment exercises
Simple exercises can help strengthen the neck ligaments and reduce pain. You can do the following exercise:
- Turn your head to the left 3 times, right 3 times, upwards 3 times, then move it down to the chest 3 times.
- Roll the neck in a circular motion three times clockwise and anti clockwise.
Yoga poses can also help. Recommended poses are shoulder stand (do this very carefully and preferably with help of an instructor), Camel pose and Cobra pose as shown in diagrams below.
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4. Use the right pillow
Regular pillows can aggravate the neck pain, so it is best to sleep without one. You can alternatively use latex pillows which level the head and neck and prevent it from being too high up or too low. Many people have experienced fewer headaches and pain in the morning after using latex pillows.
5. Best herbs for whiplash
Herbs for whiplash pain include Turmeric, Arnica, and Ginger. Tinctures and pills of these herbs are readily available in the market. Arnica is especially a powerful remedy for painful whiplash symptoms. It relieves pain, shock, bruising and swelling. Take Arnica frequently in the first few hours after the accident/trauma. You can continue taking it 3 to 4 times a day as long as symptoms are present for up to 7 days following the injury. Arnica oil is also available which you can use topically. Chamomile tea before bedtime can help with pain and aid better sleep.
6. Homeopathic remedies
Many homeopathic remedies are available for treating whiplash pain.
- Hypericum –Take as needed, at least 3 times per day for 7 days. Especially beneficial in head injuries accompanying neck and shoulder pain.
- Natrum Sulphuricum– Take this after Arnica. It is a good remedy for patients who continue to feel unwell for days after the accident. Nat. Sulphuricum (12 C potency once a day) may be even taken for years if the pain persists and is beneficial for personality changes following head injury.
7. Essential oils for whiplash
Many essential oils can be diffused in your room when you are unable to sleep due to pain. Lemongrass helps with ligament pain, while basil, birch and helichrysum can provide inflammation relief. Marjoram can help with muscle pain. Wintergreen, Spruce and Roman chamomile help with bone injury.
8. Alkalize the body
Drink a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water daily to fight inflammation. Also take lemon juice in water several times a day. Follow an alkaline diet.
9. Blackstrap molasses
Take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses with a glass of warm water in the evening. BSM is rich in Magnesium which is one of the most important minerals to help body recover from trauma.
10. Stay hydrated
Dehydration increases the pain several times over. So drink 10-12 glasses of water as well as other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated and sugar free beverages. Herbal teas, fresh juices etc can also help.
11. Supplements for whiplash
Magnesium and Vitamin D are some of the most important supplements for whiplash. Take at least 400mg per day of Magnesium. Also take a B complex pill.
12. Resume normal activities
If you have injured your neck, do not get caught up in it. Instead, resume your activities as soon as you can. Do as much as you can do.