following an car accident. Although it can occur in other circumstances, it most often occurs during a auto accident, specifically rear-end collisions and can effect everyone in the car.
Whiplash is a type of neck strain that occurs when the head is jerked forward or backward very quickly. The force stretches and can tear the tendons and muscles within your neck, causing severe pain and sometimes permanent neck problems.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The most common symptom of whiplash is pain, and it will usually start in the neck, but it may move to other areas as well.
Other symptoms can also include:
- Tightness or tenderness in the neck
- Muscles that feel hard or knotted
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain when moving your head side to side or backward or forward
- Headaches that start at the base of the skull and radiate toward the forehead
It can take several hours or even days before you start to experience the symptoms of whiplash. This is part of the reason why many people are so skeptical about this type of injury
. Although it may get some backlash, this type of neck strain can be a very serious problem.
Testing and Treatment for Whiplash after a Car Accident
Because whiplash or neck strain is an internal injury that usually does not have visible symptoms, doctors need to perform specific tests to see if a strain (or even a sprain, which is a tearing in the ligaments) occurred. These tests may include X-rays and CT scans.
Most minor whiplash injuries will heal on their own, but some more serious injuries may cause other problems such as back pain, headaches, and permanent damage that affects your ability to move your neck.
Usually, treatment will include:
- Painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Icing your neck, and then adding moist heat after 2 or 3 days of icing
- Using a neck brace or collar to add support (for short term use)
- Chiropractic visits
- Massage or physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
Your recovery process will depend on how serious your injury was initially. Many cases of minor whiplash will resolve within a few days to a week. However, more serious cases could take weeks or even longer to heal completely. Some clients may even see residual effects of a serious injury for years to come.
Although you may think of your injury as relatively minor, it can cause more problems if you engage in your previous level of activity before you are completely healed. Be sure you can rock your head in all directions without pain or stiffness first.
Other Problems Associated with Whiplash Injuries
Other injuries often accompany whiplash after a car accident, including:
- Disc herniation: The jerking motion of whiplash may harm the discs between the vertebrae, which can force them to bulge out from where they are meant to be. This can irritate the nearby nerves, causing sharp pain, numbness, muscle weakness, or tingling.
- Joint dysfunction: Following a whiplash injury, the joints in the spine or limbs may lose their ability to absorb shock or be resilient. This can result in restricted range of motion and pain.
- Chronic pain: Most injuries will heal in time, but there are some more serious injuries that create long-lasting or chronic neck and back pain.
- Cognitive and higher center dysfunction: If you are having trouble concentrating after a injury, you are not alone. Whiplash can actually affect a victim’s mental functioning in some situations.
- Faulty movement patterns: After a whiplash injury, the nervous system could be affected in a rare bizarre way. It could actually change the way it controls and coordinates the function of your muscles.
Although you may think your whiplash injury is minor, it is still worth your time to see a medical professional. This will help you avoid more serious problems related to this type of neck strain, and it will hopefully prevent any long term effects.