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Whiplash injuries.

Q Can you recommend any self-help measures that will help ease whiplash syndrome?

A Whiplash injuries occur when the head is jolted beyond its normal range of motion, resulting in damage to the soft tissue (the muscles, ligaments and tendons) of the neck. Vehicle collisions are a major cause of whiplash injuries, and older adults are at particular risk if they have chronic conditions that affect the neck, such as osteoarthritis.

Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, swelling in the neck area, pain and stiffness that may radiate from the neck to the shoulders, arms and back, and numbness or a tingling sensation in the neck and back. Some people also report tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It typically takes about eight to 12 weeks to recover, but about 25 percent of people who suffer a whiplash injury report discomfort for up to one year afterwards.

A combination of rest, ice packs and painkillers is usually recommended for the first 72 hours after a whiplash injury. It's likely your doctor will recommend physical therapy after this, to restore flexibility. Gentle stretching exercises that rotate your head from side to side and bend your neck forwards, backwards, and sideways are best. If pain or tight muscles make it difficult for you to perform the exercises, gently massaging the area or applying a heat pack may help. If you're still having discomfort, your doctor may administer a steroid injection or a local anesthetic before you do the exercises.

Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD

Geriatric Medicine

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Title Annotation:ASK THE EXPERTS
Author:Leipzig, Rosanne M.
Publication:Focus on Healthy Aging
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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