Auto accidents can be scary and frustrating, especially when a painful injury lingers on afterward. And whiplash is among the most common car accident injuries, especially those that involve being rear-ended.
Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, treats auto accident conditions like whiplash using advanced technology and minimally invasive techniques.
Let’s delve deeper into this injury, including how medial branch nerve blocks can bring relief.
Whiplash happens when a forceful and fast back-and-forth movement affects your neck. So rapid, the motion is similar to the cracking of a whip.
As a type of neck sprain or strain, whiplash can fuel bothersome symptoms, such as:
- Neck pain that worsens with movement
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in your neck
- Headaches that start at the base of your skull
- Shoulder pain or tenderness
- Arm tingling or numbness
Whiplash may also lead to blurred vision, sleep and mood difficulties, memory problems, and ringing in your ears (tinnitus). Although some whiplash symptoms crop up promptly after an accident, they commonly unfold over the course of several days.
Treatment for whiplash may include rest, applying hot or cold packs, pain medication, muscle relaxants, or injections.
How medial branch nerve blocks work
Medial branch nerve blocks are a specialized type of injection we may recommend if you’re dealing with whiplash after an auto accident.
During the medial branch nerve block procedure, we inject an anesthetic and potentially a steroid near the nerves close to the facet joints in your spine. We carefully guide the needle into the medial branch nerve using X-ray technology, making it a minimally invasive procedure.
While treatment specifics vary, you’ll likely receive injections at several points.
Medial branch nerve blocks often help diagnose particular issues, but they can also bring swift and lasting neck pain relief. In fact, research involving 45 people with chronic whiplash pain experienced 80% less neck pain thanks to medial branch blocks.
The injections work by blocking the nerves that relay pain signals from the treatment area (around your neck, in the case of whiplash). The anesthetic temporarily reduces pain for hours. If we inject a steroid as well, the relief may last months or longer.
Preparing for medial branch nerve block
If you’re approved for medial branch nerve block treatment, we let you know your best preparation steps. We will ask you to stop taking blood thinners beforehand, for example, and to avoid eating solid foods the day of your procedure.
You should also arrange for someone to drive you home after your treatment.
In most cases, our patients tolerate nerve block injections well, and any side effects — such as flushing, sleep problems, and menstrual changes — tend to be mild and temporary.
To learn more about medial branch nerve blocks for whiplash or to get the care you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.