Whiplash happens when a person’s head is jerked backward then pushed forward. It affects your muscles and ligaments by stretching them beyond their normal range of motion, causing straining and even tearing.
While the condition is not life-threatening, it can cause long-term discomfort and be extremely painful.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Any motion that forces the head and neck back and forth with great force can cause whiplash. Some of the most common causes of whiplash include:
- Contact sports like football, karate, and boxing
- Being punched or shaken
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Horseback riding
- Blows to the head
Signs of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms are usually noticed in the first 24 hours after the injury but can sometimes take several days to develop.
The most common signs of whiplash include:
- Neck stiffness
- Neck pain
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Blurred vision
Other symptoms of whiplash could include:
- Chronic neck, shoulder, or head pain
- Brain fog
More severe cases of whiplash could cause pain in the shoulders and arms, incontinence, weakness in your legs, difficulty moving your head, or numb, weak arms. These are all signs that you need medical attention.
Dangers of Whiplash
Whiplash is dangerous, and if not treated appropriately or if recovery is rushed, the results can be detrimental.
- Irritated nerves and joints can cause chronic headaches.
- You could lose your range of motion and end up with mobility issues.
- Pain can spread to your upper back and shoulders.
- Brain injuries could get overlooked.
- Your vision could be affected.
- Dizziness could affect daily activities.
- PTSD, depression, and anxiety could develop from physical pain and traumatic event.
That is why it’s so important to get treated for whiplash if you experience any of the above symptoms
How to Treat Whiplash
After an accident, your doctor will do a physical exam to check your range of motion and verify that no bones are broken or that more severe injuries have not occurred. Then, they may perform X-rays, CT scans, or MRI to assess the damage.
In most cases, doctors will prescribe over-the-counter medication like Tylenol to help with the pain. Some may recommend muscle relaxers as well.
Physical therapy is highly effective in helping you recover from whiplash as you strengthen and build flexibility in your neck. Applying heat and ice to your neck can help relieve pain, as can good posture and learning relaxation techniques.
Some people find it helpful to use a foam collar, although it’s not recommended that you wear it for longer than 3 hours at a time or more than a few days after the injury.
Other therapies and treatments that can help with whiplash include:
- Chiropractic care
- Electronic nerve stimulation
Treating Your Whiplash
If you’ve been diagnosed with whiplash or suspect that you could have it, make an appointment with Spine Health and Wellness today. We will customize a treatment plan to help you manage pain and restore your neck’s overall function.