After being involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may experience head and neck pain, as well as migraines and whiplash-type neck pains. It may take several days or even weeks following an accident before you begin to experience the symptoms of these injuries. The pain can be debilitating, but there are a number of treatment options, including cortisone injections and Botox injections. We’ve included some summary information on both options below (which should not be misconstrued as medical advice).

Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections may help to relieve inflammation and pain in a particular area of your body. Cortisone is most commonly injected into body joints, such as the shoulder, spine, wrist, or knee. The injections are typically comprised of a corticosteroid medication as well as a local anesthetic to relieve pain. There are some potential side effects to receiving cortisone injections, such as:

  • Lightening of the skin around the injection site
  • Thinning of nearby bone
  • Weakening or rupture of nearby tendons
  • Joint infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Deterioration of cartilage within a joint
  • If you have diabetes, cortisone may temporarily increase your blood sugar levels

Generally, you should limit the frequency of cortisone injections to once every six weeks and not more than 3-4 times a year. You can often receive a cortisone injection at your family physician. The area around the injection site will be cleaned and your doctor may also apply a topical anesthetic to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. The doctor will sometimes use an ultrasound or a fluoroscopy x-ray to guide the needle into the desired location. The medication is then injected into the site.

After the cortisone injection, you may be asked to avoid heavy lifting and vigorous physical activity. You may be instructed to apply ice to the injection site to relieve pain; do not use heating pads as heat will only increase inflammation. You should be on the lookout for signs of infection, including an increase in heat, swelling, redness and pain during two days following the injections. After 48 hours, you should experience a decrease in pain and inflammation at the affected joint. This relief can last up to several months.

Botox Injections

One of the most common types of headaches a client may experience after an MVA is a muscle contraction/spasm headache. It is caused when the muscles of the head, neck, or upper back are injured and start to tense and knot up. In addition to the headaches, muscle spasms can cause a decrease in your range of motion. Although most commonly used in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Botox injections can also be used to alleviate chronic migraines and muscle spasms.

Botox injections contain a toxin called onobotulinumtoxinA. This toxin is produced by the microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning. In minute doses, the toxin can prevent a specific muscle from moving or contracting, which may decrease pain and increase your range of motion. Possible risks to receiving Botox injections include:

  • Pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Trouble breathing

If you experience difficulty breathing, swallowing, or speaking, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Botox must only be administered by a doctor. Your family doctor may refer you to a specialist to receive Botox injections. Your skin may be numbed with a topical anesthetic before the injection. The doctor will use a thin needle to inject tiny amounts of the botulinum toxin into your skin or muscles. After the procedure, you should avoid rubbing or massaging the affected areas for 24 hours, as this may help prevent the toxin from spreading to other areas. You will typically begin to experience results 1-3 days following the injections. The effect may last three months or longer. To maintain the effect, you will need regular follow-up injections.