Q: I had a bad car accident a few months ago, and since then, my neck has been giving me intense pain even though I didn't suffer any serious injuries. I can't turn my head without pain, and my neck is often stiff.
What can I do about this? Is there any treatment (surgical or non-surgical) that will get rid of the pain for good?
You probably suffered a whiplash mechanism of injury to the neck.
First of all, you will need to see a spine specialist to see if there are significant injuries sustained. The specialist will conduct an examination and schedule X-rays of the cervical spine to rule out obvious malalignment, fractures, or dislocations.
When these have been ruled out, conservative treatment - e.g. acupuncture, medications, and physiotherapy - can be done for 2-3 months. Most of the patients will report significant relief at the end of the treatment session.
For the remaining, an MRI may need to be performed to rule out underlying structural issues, e.g. slipped discs.
Answer provided by Adjunct Associate Professor Hee Hwan Tak, Singapore Medical Group's Medical Director, SMG Orthopaedic Group and Centre for Spine & Scoliosis Surgery