Can an Urgent Care Center Treat Whiplash?

When most people think of whiplash, the first thing that comes to mind is a car accident. Whiplash is an injury to the neck that is caused by a sudden forward and backward movement. Auto accidents cause most cases, but this injury can also be caused by hard contact during sports, trauma or physical abuse.

The common symptoms of whiplash include stiffness, headaches and neck pain. The condition usually improves in a few weeks if the person gets proper treatment. Treatment often includes medication and physical therapy. In rare cases, whiplash can lead to chronic neck pain and other lifelong issues.

What is whiplash?

The medical name for whiplash is a neck sprain.  When it comes to getting medical care for whiplash, the best place to go is an urgent care center. The patient can avoid the costs and time commitment of going to the emergency room and still get the proper care they need. Most cases of whiplash are not considered to be medical emergencies.

Whiplash symptoms

The common symptoms of a neck sprain include:

  • Stiffness and neck pain
  • Limited range of neck motion
  • Memory issues
  • Headaches
  • Tender shoulders
  • Depression
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Dizziness

Treating whiplash

You should visit a doctor if you notice any symptoms of a neck sprain. A proper diagnosis is essential to ensure there are no damaged tissues or broken bones.

The doctor will start the evaluation by asking you about how the injury occurred and the symptoms you are experiencing. The doctor will touch the neck at different points and ask you to perform some tasks to determine the extent of the damage like:

  • How much the range of motion in your neck has been limited
  • If there is any pain associated with moving the neck
  • Tenderness in the shoulders and back
  • Reflexes and sensations

The doctor may also perform an imaging test to rule out certain conditions that can complicate things. X-rays help to detect arthritis, dislocations or fractures. Computerized tomography creates more detailed images of bone structures. MRIs can also be used to evaluate a sprained neck.

The goal of treatment is always to limit the pain and help the patient recover as fast as possible. It will depend on the extent of damage done to the neck.

Managing the pain

The doctor may advise the patient to manage the pain by:

  • Taking it easy for the first few days after the injury. This can speed up the recovery process
  • Putting a cold or hot pack on the affected area
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • Taking muscle relaxants
  • Taking prescription painkillers
  • Receiving injections like lidocaine

Exercise can speed up recovery. Patients should:

  • Rotate their neck in both directions to loosen it
  • Bend their neck from one side to the other
  • Rolling the shoulders
  • Bringing the head toward the chest

Patients should aim for 20 repetitions when performing these exercises. Want to learn more about treating whiplash? Give us a call today to discuss your whiplash concerns.

Are you considering whiplash treatment in the St. Augustine area? Get more whiplash information at

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