When it comes to managing symptoms of whiplash from a car accident, it can be helpful to utilize home remedies and treatments to supplement care from your medical team. When you are at the doctor’s office, an orthopedist may prescribe certain medications for pain management, and a physical therapist might take you through a few exercises that require the presence of a medical professional. However, there are also treatments you can do from home to supplement your care and support the healing process.
1. Alternating Ice and Heat
Right after a car accident, icing the neck and shoulders is incredibly beneficial to not only address any pain you may be experiencing but to also help reduce swelling. The first 48 hours after an accident is when the most swelling occurs in the soft tissues of the neck, upper back, and even shoulders.
Applying ice to the area helps reduce the amount of swelling and inflammation in the area, which can cause pain and discomfort. Remember to always wrap ice or an ice pack in a light towel to avoid direct contact with your skin; applying ice directly to your skin can actually cause a very uncomfortable burn.
After the first 48 hours, you can switch to applying heat to the same areas. Heat therapy works to loosen muscles and encourage blood flow with fresh oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissues. As muscles and soft tissues fight inflammation, they may also become tense or stiff from overextension, over-stretching, and even tears.
Applying heat to the area helps soothe the pain and warm up the muscles. At this point, you can also alternate ice and heat therapies for maximum relief.
2. Light Stretching
Your doctor or physical therapist may be able to recommend specific light stretches that are gentle on your neck and spine. These light stretches are typically encouraged once the majority of your pain symptoms have subsided.
They may recommend very gentle, light stretching such as turning your neck from side to side or up and down, slowly encouraging more range of motion. If you experience any pain during these activities, stop right away.
The stretches are meant to supplement your medical care and you want to be sure not to harm or re-injure the area.
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils are a type of homeopathic remedy that people have used for hundreds of years. Essential oils are generally applied directly to the skin or diffused into the air. The variety of scents can promote a healing environment and cause the mind and body to relax.
Lavender is a common scent for relaxing and is commonly used around bedtime. Other scents are also said to provide natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic relief, such as peppermint, rosemary, and chrysanthemum.
While essential oils may not have a lot of scientific support, the use of scents to create a healing and peaceful environment can help set the stage for a positive healing experience.
4. Hot Teas
In addition to ice and heat therapies, ginger tea also has anti-inflammatory properties. The warm drink encourages muscles to relax and the ginger properties address inflammation, which is directly correlated to pain symptoms.
Similarly, chamomile tea before bed can encourage relaxing, which is especially helpful before bed. Many who experience whiplash express difficulty falling asleep due to discomfort, and drinking a cup or two of chamomile tea before bed is a way to naturally encourage the body to relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
5. CBD Oil
Cannabinoids are becoming more popular and doctors are now starting to incorporate this into potential treatment plans for healing and pain management for a variety of injuries. The properties of CBD oil and creams are said to encourage pain relief and have anti-inflammatory properties to help with muscle soreness and stiffness.
Gently but firmly applying a cream that contains CBD on the affected area works the cannabinoid properties into the area and massaging also encourages healthy blood flow to the muscles.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are experiencing whiplash, speak with your AICA Orthopedics treatment team about the best types of at-home remedies you can do in tandem with your medical treatment.
Our highly knowledgeable team of physical therapists can offer additional information on appropriate stretching and other ways to healthily manipulate the affected areas. Speak with an AICA Orthopedics doctor today and get on the road to recovery!