A whiplash injury occurs in the neck when the neck and head are quickly and forcibly jarred back and forth or side to side. When you have a whiplash, injuries happen to the neck structures, such as ligaments, discs, spinal joints, nerve roots, and cervical muscles. These injured structures can then produce pain.
What causes whiplash injury?
Whiplash is acquired through a sudden back and forth movement of the head. Usually, this happens during a car accident, however, it’s also possible during sports activities, assaults, or other traumatic experiences.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Apart from pain, here are other symptoms that tell you’re experiencing whiplash:
- Neck tightness
- Headaches that root from the base of the skull
- Muscles feeling hard or twisted
- Difficulty in movement
- Sleep disturbances
What does a whiplash feel like?
In some cases, the pain from a whiplash comes on immediately. In other instances, it may take multiple hours up to a few days to experience the pain. So, just because you don't have immediate pain after a whiplash, doesn't mean that you are free of potential future problems.
Sometimes, the sudden force in the neck can cause a concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury. If you think you or someone you know could be having one, see your doctor at once.
What are the related discomforts following a whiplash?
The forceful blow may cause more than just a neck injury. Some of these include:
- Headache, usually starts from the skull’s base and extends to the forehead
- Difficulty of movement in the neck, especially when facing the shoulders
- Tenderness in the shoulders
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Ringing in the ears
- Extreme neck pain
How is whiplash diagnosed?
To diagnose whiplash, a licensed specialist will perform thorough physical tests. In addition, they may suggest that you go through a CT scan, X-ray, and other relevant tests to make sure there are no underlying problems causing the symptoms.
What are the risk factors of whiplash?
The intensity of whiplash could be worse for people who:
- Have older age
- Have had whiplash in the past
- Are currently experiencing neck or back pain
How long does it last?
How long it takes for you to recover from whiplash depends on the severity of your condition. Some mild cases resolve in days or weeks. Moderate whiplash injures can take weeks to months to recover. Severe cases can take longer to recover from all of their pain and symptoms.
How to avoid whiplash?
Whiplash caused by sharp blows during accidents cannot be prevented. However, there are ways you can do to increase your resistance. One is by regularly practicing strengthening exercises. This will keep your neck muscles tough and resilient.
In a vehicle, make sure the head rest is properly adjusted so that your head is positioned close to the headrest itself.
Another way is by stretching and exercising your neck. Doing these is hugely beneficial, especially if you work in an office and tend to sit in one position all throughout the day.
Neck pain or whiplash is one of the most distressing pain one can experience. Aside from taking extra care when driving or engaging in sports, make sure to do proper neck and body exercises to turn the odds in your favor. If you’re feeling the abovementioned symptoms and have been in an accident or physical trauma, have yourself checked by a licensed physician immediately.
Treatment of Whiplash Injuries
If you are involved in a whiplash injury, seek proper evaluation and treatment. Dr. Brent Ungar is experienced in the complete evaluation and treatment of whiplash related injuries. He has treated many in the Canton OH area for this very condition.