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Got head injury. Having pain in head and lump appeared on neck. Which specialist should I consult?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1986
Answered : 212 Questions
I was involved in a car accident in May - was hit from behind while stopped - suffered whiplash. I had immediate pain that radiated into my head and as a result have a painful lump in the right neck ligament. Went to PT, had a soft tissue CT but nothing shows, although it can be touched and seen by doctors. I have seen an internist (after initial accident - she ordered xray and soft tissue CT), and have seen an orthopedist....who should I see now? I am in pain constantly and have limited range of motion that affects waking and sleeping. Please advise - I need help.
Also, it was ruled out that the lump is a lymph node ---- or at least that is what I was told.
Posted Sat, 1 Dec 2012 in Head Injuries
Answered by Dr. Stephen Christensen 3 hours later
Hello. Welcome to Healthcare Magic. I'm Dr. Christensen.
I'm sorry you're uncomfortable. At this stage, your condition has become chronic, so you may need some fairly aggressive and long-term therapy at the hands of someone who specializes in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. A physiatrist might be right up your alley, and I see from a quick web search that there are several within 10 miles of your location. Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; they work with people who have chronic musculoskeletal pain, stroke victims, and individuals who've had spinal injuries (including patients who are paralyzed). A physiatrist may want to order additional imaging studies to get a clearer idea of your injury before proceeding with treatment, so be prepared to undergo another CT and/or MRI.
Physiatrists employ a variety of modalities, including many of the techniques used by physical therapists, but physiatrists add osteopathic manipulations, nerve blocks, electrotherapy, medications, traction and bracing to their range of expertise.
Another modality to consider (if you haven't already done so) is acupuncture. Many patients report relief of chronic pain after several sessions with an acupuncturist.
If all else fails, you might benefit from a consultation with a pain management specialist. These physicians design protocols for dealing with chronic, intractable pain: their programs almost always include prescription painkillers, but nerve blocks, PT, and intrathecal pain pumps (administering small doses of narcotics via a device implanted in the spinal column) are among the treatments offered by these specialists.
I'd recommend you contact a physiatrist first and go from there. This would probably offer the best chance of actually dealing with your underlying injury and getting you back to a better level of function.
I hope that all helps. I'm available for additional questions if necessary.
Good luck!
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