UNITED STATES—If you have suffered a whiplash injury, recovering is one of the biggest challenges you’ll possibly face. Depending on what you do or your treatment regimen, the recovery process can take days, weeks, or even months.

To help speed up your recovery from whiplash, here are critical instructions you may need to follow. But before that, let’s first understand whiplash injuries better, including how they occur, common causes, and symptoms.

Understanding Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash injuries often occur when the neck and head are unexpectedly jerked forward and backward beyond their range of motion. While whiplash injuries are often common during a rear-end accident, they can also result from falls, contact sports, or physical abuse.

Common whiplash symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. You may also lose your range of motion in the neck and experience numbness in the arms.

Vital Care Instructions for Recovering from Whiplash

Take Some Time to Rest

Your body is likely to be in shock after a whiplash accident. Therefore, you may need to take a few days off work to recover.

While you might be eager to resume your normal activities, doing too much may worsen your symptoms and delay your recovery. Therefore, get enough rest to allow your muscles and ligaments enough time to heal.

While rest is good, try not to stay in the same position for a long time, as the structures in your neck are likely to weaken. Nevertheless, be sure to consult your doctor about a suitable resting period.

Stay Active, But Avoid Strenuous Activities

Much like rest, staying active is essential after sustaining a whiplash injury. Remaining active will help keep your neck muscles strong and improve your range of motion.

That said, you should avoid strenuous activities, such as contact sports or high-impact aerobics that could jar or jolt your neck. Tilting your head from side to side, rotating your neck, and rolling your shoulders are good exercises you might want to try.

See a Physical Therapist

If you follow an at-home recovery program, whiplash symptoms may start improving after a few days following your accident. However, if your pain lasts over a couple of weeks, you may need to see a physical therapist.

Physical therapists have been trained to help you identify and manage referred pain. They will recommend helpful movement patterns, exercises, or habits to ease your pain.

For faster recovery, ensure you attend all therapy sessions and follow your therapist’s advice. And if there is any exercise that makes the symptoms worse, be sure to mention it to your therapist.

Watch How You Sleep

Having an adequate sleep after any injury is critical for repairing your muscle ligaments and replenishing your energy levels. But sleeping well can be challenging when you have an injury that impacts your neck, such as whiplash.

To prevent possible sleep issues, try applying a hot compress or an ice pack to the area around your neck for about 20 minutes. This will help ease pain and tension as you prepare for bedtime.

When sleeping, avoid lying on your stomach as this might cause your back to arch and place more tension on your neck. Alternatively, sleep on your back or side with a pillow between your legs and knees.

Neck pillows and foam rollers can also help keep your neck stable and prevent more pain as you sleep. So, you may need to get some from your nearest outlet or ask your physical therapist for suggestions. If you plan to use a foam collar, ensure you talk to your physical therapist before buying so they can advise you on the correct size, how to use it, and for how long.