Managing Your Whiplash Pain – Part Two
The first two parts of managing whiplash have been covered: realising that it is an acute injury which needs management but will settle and taking the maximum medically advisable painkiller medication for a number of days. Don''t think that the pain is OK now and you can stop taking the painkillers, take them rigidly as prescribed for several days to give you the best chance of damping down the pain cycles and maintaining some level of function. The next stage is to rest to some extent, perhaps for most of the time for a day or so if the pain is severe. Long term resting is not recommended but a reduction in normal functional levels is sensible.
Night times will be a problem and getting enough sleep can be a problem when the pain is acute. Wearing a beany type collar can be really helpful at night as this limits the movement of the neck and along with some creative pillow positioning this may allow short periods of sleep. Taking the proper analgesia is still crucial here. Regular getting up and moving about may be useful, as you may stiffen if you stay in one position for too long, even asleep. Recognise that you may well sleep much less well for a few nights until the pain starts to lessen.
Next stage is to continue with your normal day to day activities but at a reduced level rather than stopping doing everything. It is important to keep normality to some degree but not to overdo things. Pushing to get things done is very common but always unproductive at this stage as it causes a significant increase in pain symptoms which are the enemy at this point. Pace your activities into small timed amounts that you can manage without stirring up the pain excessively as ramping up the pain will slow down your recovery.
Plan your day so that you can intersperse periods of resting with periods of activity, taking the painkillers regularly and performing normal activities at a reduced level such as shopping or light housework or paperwork. Resting in sitting may be best achieved by choosing a chair with a high back and using a mouldable pillow around the neck so that the head can rest back against the chair and feel supported. Increase the amount you do regularly in response to a reduction of the pain, but don''t become too cocky too soon as the pain will return if you overdo things.
Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth