Long-time Whiplash Injury ...still reversible?
(Orange County, CA)
Hi, I'm asking this for my fiance who lives with me and has a severe whiplash injury that's currently a 1.5 years old and has only gotten worse, not better.
She is a 21 year old female, who was in a car accident 1.5 years ago where she was rear-ended at 40-50mph and saw the impact just before it occurred and turn her neck back and then was slammed by the car behind her and received whiplash and back injuries.
Her back injuries have pretty much healed, but her neck has crippled her and made her unable to attend school (can't sit for more than 30-45 mins without the injury being aggravated and if she does, she'll be in extreme pain all night as a result & can't drive more than a short period of time or the same pain will happen).
The problem is that she did everything wrong post-accident. Instead of exercising her neck and rehabilitating it, her doctors gave her loads of pain meds, muscle relaxants, and sleep meds and she spent the six months following the accident mostly in bed being immobile and sleeping all day on medications to try to ignore the pain.
Even after the six months, she still spent the next six months not-using her neck and being misdiagnosed as having a back injury.
It was only a year post-accident that a doctor correctly diagnosed all of her back and neck pain as coming from her neck from a whiplash injury from the accident. She was recommended to go to physical therapy.
By the time she got started with physical therapy it had been 14 months post-accident and her neck was so sensitive and inflammed that even the most minor of touching or exercises sent her muscles spasming and put her in incredible pain for days.
Her physical therapist told her that since it had been so long since the accident and her muscles had shrunk/tightened/weakened that it would take a tough 2-3 months of pain and then up to 6-12 months to recover if possible.
She couldn't make it through the 2-3 months of initial tough pain. Either the constant use of pain killers had lowered her pain threshold or she had a low pain threshold to begin with, but she tried going to PT 2-3 times a week and doing neck stretching exercises daily for 1.5 months before she just gave up in depression as there was only slight improvement in mobility and the pain was still horribly disabling.
It's been another two months now since she stopped PT and stopped exercising her neck and she's lost any mobility she gained during those 1.5 months of exercises. Her neck always hurts and driving or sitting aggravates it to being incredibly painful. There have been times where the pain was so bad that she was suicidal and wanted to go to a psychiatric hospital to be institutionalized so she could be sedated and have the pain stop.
It doesn't help that she already had severe depression and anxiety issues before the accident that were being managed by medication from her psychiatrist. She was stable but the chronic pain and her PT not helping the pain after 1.5 months of pushing hard caused her to fall back into a depression. She also has sleeping problems and can't sleep until 4-10am. Sleep medications don't help her fall asleep any earlier, they just make her groggy and then when she does fall asleep in the am from exhaustion the sleep meds make her sleep 8-12 hours and unable to be woken up.
We've been seeing doctors together and trying everything. I spend time every week google-ing and trying to find new ideas for her to try. I found your site and read your page on whiplash injuries and it was very helpful and struck a lot of the right notes with her
My question really, is a general re-assurance. All the doctors and websites say what "not to do" like being immobile and relying on pain meds in the long term because they can make the whiplash worse.
My question is if some who messed up and did all those things for a year+ and is still in extreme pain a 1.5 years post-accident still has a good chance to be able to recovery from the whiplash injury one day and live at least mostly pain-free.
As a 21-year old, my fiance still has her whole life and career ahead of her and she's so depressed that because some person wasn't looking and ran his car into her, that her whole life is gone and she'll never be able to experience school, a career, a family.
It'd really help for some peace of mind to know that (even if it's not 100% for sure) even if you haven't been treating your injury correctly, if you can still recover from a bad neck whiplash injury 1.5 years later. It doesn't help that doctors have been extremely anti-patient with her as little shows on the X-rays and MRIs besides straightening and reverse curvature of the neck (indicative of whiplash).
All the doctors basically tell her she's young and she just needs to exercise and she'll be fine, which doesn't really help a miserable 21 year old whose been in chronic pain and unable to live a normal life for the past 1.5 years.
Thanks and sorry for the really long description!
1. I don't have a lot of nice things to say about your doctors.
However, in their defense, they have no idea what do do with somebody in your fiance's situation.
' and 'Being Young' have no chance of fixing a bad whiplash dynamic. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen
and muscle relaxants, etc, also can't fix anything (though they may help get one through the day).
2. "My question is if some who messed up and did all those things for a year+ and is still in extreme pain a 1.5 years post-accident still has a good chance to be able to recovery from the whiplash injury one day and live at least mostly pain-free."
The answer is, 'the chances are good or better -if- you do what needs to be done'.
What needs to be done? Effective self care (and then maybe later, some effective treatment from appropriately skilled practitioners).
3. That's great news that MRI's don't show damage (tell me more about that, but it sounds like no rips/tears/breaks/etc?).
There may be 'deeper' damage/out-of-whackness to deal with later, but first thing's first, let's get the pain levels down to manageable levels.
4. She's stuck in an acute pain dynamic, basically. That's due to the Process of Inflammation
(and it's role inside the Pain Causing Dynamic
), and nutritional insufficiency/deficiency.
Said another way, there's a Tendonitis
dynamic in place (location on the body doesn't matter, but the factors of the dynamic do).
See: What Is Tendonitis?
5. Get my 'Reversing Whiplash' ebook. It's 80ish pages of what you need to know and (the base of) what we'll be working with.
6. What is her Vitamin D level? (She -should- have been tested previously, and previously tested in investigation of her 'depression' etc).
Don't know? Find out ASAP.----------------------
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Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expertwww.TendonitisExpert.com