Natural cures for whiplash

Choose alternative and complementary therapies for whiplash injuries

Whiplash – the most common injury people suffer after a car crash. Although not solely caused by traffic incidents (diving into water can cause whiplash too), whiplash typically occurs from the sudden deceleration that happens when you get shunted by another car. Anybody that has suffered this injury to the neck will tell you how painful whiplash is and how long you can suffer with it after the initial impact. Whiplash injuries can continue to cause pain for many months after they occur and for a chronic injury such as that, you’ll want an effective treatment program that will manage the pain and restore function. Painkilling drugs may give short-term relief but that will not last and they can also cause some unwelcome side-effects. Alternative medicine and complementary therapy can provide a holistic treatment program for whiplash injuries that will help restore physical and psychological well-being in a natural way.

What is whiplash and how can you ease the pain of a whiplash injury?

The spine is a complex system of bone and soft tissue (vertebrae, ligaments, muscles etc) that enables us to move in different directions but that tissue can be strained and over-stretched if the body is thrust into a forward motion suddenly and then jerked back while the head remains stationary. This is the action that occurs when we’re rear-ended in a car crash. How whiplash affects us depends on the force of the impact and the position we are in at the time. Not only can ligaments and muscles be strained, but the discs and nerves in the spine can also be injured too.

When whiplash happens, there may not be any sign of a problem, however symptoms such as a headache and stiff neck can develop after a few hours and if severe can be debilitating. The first thing to do if you’ve suffered a whiplash injury is to seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying condition – particularly if you fell unconscious at any point, suffered memory loss, felt pins and needles in the upper body, pain at the back of the head or heavy arms. If you’ve been given the all-clear, an ice pack is the first treatment you can apply to your neck to reduce inflammation and pain.

Once home, you may find that your whiplash gets worse and the injury lasts for days, weeks or months. Painkillers alone won’t help you recover. Whiplash requires a series of treatments to restore function to your neck and spine and relieve the pain.

Physical & hands-on therapies
Avoid bed rest when suffering with a whiplash injury (unless you have serious fractures to your vertebrae or a slipped disc). If you are having difficulty sleeping, lie down on your back or curl up into the foetal position. The best option though is to visit a chiropractor, osteopath, massage therapist, Bowen therapist or physiotherapist who can apply manipulation and mobilisation to the muscles, bones, joints, neck and spine. Keeping the soft tissue and joints mobile will prevent stiffness and encourage the nervous system to function properly which will ease pain.

Reflexology should also be considered as this therapy can apply pressure to specific areas of the body that will aid the reflexes of the head and spine. A reflexologist can teach you techniques that can be used on a daily basis until the whiplash improves.

Nutrition
A trained nutritionist can advise you on the right foods to aid your recovery from whiplash. Your injury has damaged muscle tissue and therefore that tissue needs to be rebuilt. Wheat-germ contains vitamin E and B, vital for rebuilding tissue and also containing magnesium which has relaxing properties that will ease the stiffness in your neck. Supporting your body with the right nutrition by eating foods such as nuts, oats, muesli, green vegetables and sunflower seeds will provide you with plenty of vitamins, fatty acids and magnesium to aid your recovery.

Herbal Medicine & Homeopathy
Tense muscles can be eased with a variety of herbal remedies available from a trained herbal medicine practitioner. Pay attention to your mental well-being as well. Tension in the body causes tension in the mind which can lead to anxiety, stress and even depression. Herbal medicine oils, tinctures and supplements such as St. John’s Wort, Lavender Oil and Comfrey Leaf Pulp can reduce pain, stress and aid healing. By using herbal remedies in teas or baths you can speed up your whiplash recovery.

Homeopathy remedies such as ‘arnica’ are known for treating the aches and bruising that result from whiplash injuries. ‘Rhus toxicodendron’ is helpful for stiffness first thing in the morning and ‘Hypericum’ can help with the healing of damaged nerves. It is essential that you visit a trained homeopathy practitioner to ensure that the dosages you receive are safe.

Natural treatment for whiplash injuries

Hopefully this article has given you some alternatives for treating a whiplash injury. As with all emergency treatment you are advised to visit a hospital first. For long-term treatment that is both natural and effective, use a trained alternative medicine and complementary therapist to help you overcome your whiplash.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
14/11/08

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