Whiplash and neck pain are complex injuries involving the delicate soft tissues and the nerves of your neck. Usually, motor vehicle accidents are responsible for these types of traumas. Even low-speed collisions can produce significant injury. People with these types of injuries may have central or back pain, arm pain, and even headaches or dizziness/vertigo. Some people with minor muscle strains will recover quickly but a large percentage will develop chronic problems leading to suffering that can last for months or even years.
Many different doctors, such as chiropractors and medical physicians, osteopaths and surgeons, treat neck pain with a wide variety of methods. It is important to sort out which treatments really work from those that are costly, useless, or even harmful.
In addition to treatments provided by doctors, there are many physical therapists, personal trainers, masseuses and any number of home remedies that people seek out in trying to get some relief for their severe pain. To a patient faced with all of these different options in can seem quite daunting to decide which approach to choose since all can seem reasonable. It would be nice if doctors could come to some agreement rather than forcing patients into the health care maze.
Fortunately researchers have recently brought some attention to this complicated field. The prestigious medical journal SPINE recently published the results of a best-evidence review of all treatments for neck pain (Hurwitz, et. al. Spine 2008;33:S123-52). The Bone and Joint Decade Task Force reviewed literature of non-invasive treatments (no surgery) from 1980 through 2006. A total of 139 papers were considered scientifically valid for review and covered treatments such as educational videos, mobilization (deep stretching movements), manual therapy (done by hand), low level laser therapy, exercises, and acupuncture. In addition to pain relief, the scientists also considered costs and safety. Their conclusion was that treatments involving manual therapy and exercise are more effective than alternative strategies for patients with neck pain.