After the Crash, Ouch the Whiplash!
Whiplash – common problem, difficult to diagnosis. That is until now. Whiplash doesn’t show up on X-rays or on MRIs. But there is no mistaking that it hurts and that the pain can last, even becoming a chronic condition.
The source of chronic neck pain after whiplash injuries has been a mystery. After all, the structures of the neck structure are complex, giving rise to many theories of its origin. Is it do to hemorrhaging? Is it do to torn cartilage or even microfractures?
The Culprit: Facet Joints
Studies over the past decade now point to the facet joints as being a major source of the pain. Each vertebral body is connected on either side by these joints which allows for movement and range of motion of the neck.
The facet joints are susceptible to tiny fractures or tears in their surface after a whiplash injury. This is confirmed by studies of people with known whiplash on autopsy as well as verified by low-speed impact tests on willing volunteers. Videos and X-rays confirmed compression and strain of soft tissue around the joints. The greater the impact, the greater the damage.
Nerve Blockers: Problem Confirmed
Whiplash sufferers don’t have to struggle in agony. Using a nerve block targeting the facet joints has proven to work both to diagnosis as well as to treat the pain from whiplash. If the nerve block eliminates whiplash pain, then the issue is most likely do to facet joints. And if the nerve block does work, it should also provide pain relief.
Radiofrequency Ablation: Improving Success
Pain management physicians report even more effective whiplash treatment through radiofrequency ablation. The procedure aims radiofrequency waves at the tiny nerves of the facet joints, generating heat to stun the nerve’s endings. Stun the nerves – stun the transmission of pain.
Success rate with radiofrequency ablation is 70 percent. It is more successful than with other surgical or conservative approaches and, if the pain returns, is safe to repeat.
Seek out specially trained physicians with fellowship training in pain management to discuss whiplash and treatment with radiofrequency ablation.