“I thought it would get better on its own.” Have you ever said this to yourself when you’re in pain? Sometimes problems get better with time, but in most cases there are some lingering aches or pains that never really go away. The best time to seek treatment is immediately after you suffer an injury, or within two days of feeling soreness that is not associated with trauma.
In regards to soft tissue injuries of the neck after whiplash, the duration of symptoms is the most useful factor in assessing the long term outcome for a patient. This principle can generally be applied to the rest of the body. The longer you have pain, the less likely it is that you will fully recover.
In some cases, pain killers and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are used initially to minimize severe pain and inflammation from trauma and are useful to mitigate the potential for the development of chronic pain. We understand there are appropriate times to use these drugs (even opioids), however these are only meant for short term use. Long term usage of NSAIDs can actually inhibit the healing process of soft tissues, which can lead to delayed healing times. Please discuss your use of medication with your family physician or pharmacist.
The next time you are experiencing pain, stiffness, or something feels “off”, seek the help of your healthcare professional early to minimize your short term pain and hopefully avoid potential long term problems.