Whiplash is a more common injury than you think, and it doesn’t always arise because of a motor vehicle accident.
Any sudden movement of the head, either back and forth or sideways can result in a whiplash injury.
Let’s talk about treating neck pain from whiplash injuries and find out a little more about the condition.
What’s Going On?
A whiplash injury places tremendous stress on the tendons and ligaments in the neck. It’s the weight of the head, combined with an unexpected impact, which produces this effect. Human heads can weight between 10 and 13 pounds.
You may experience the following symptoms if you’ve had a whiplash injury:
- Tenderness in the muscles of the neck
- Inhibited movement in the neck
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
Following an incident which causes whiplash, patients may show no symptoms for hours or days. This is not at all unusual. Often, pain manifests 12 hours after an injury and is much worse the following day and in subsequent days after the incident.
While motor vehicle accidents aren’t always what causes whiplash, they’re the most common cause. Impact from motor vehicle collisions are intense, exerting tremendous force. This force is what causes the head to move involuntarily and with excessive momentum.
Even a collision at low speed can provoke a whiplash injury.
Sudden blows to head (from contact sports like rugby or boxing) can cause whiplash, as well as slips and falls. Any impact to the head, from whatever source, can cause whiplash.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Imaging diagnostics aren’t usually required for the diagnosis of a whiplash injury. A simple description of the symptoms you’re experiencing is generally enough.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, though, even if you’re not in pain, you should visit the doctor to confirm that you haven’t injured yourself.
You’ll be assessed according to the description you provide the doctor, of both your symptoms and the accident, itself.
Doctors won’t usually order imaging tests unless there’s some suspicion of a fracture in the vertebrae.
Most cases of whiplash are managed with basic care and rest. Nowadays, doctors don’t recommend immobilizing the neck. Rather, they recommend keeping the structures your muscles, tendons and ligaments limber and mobile, especially during the earliest stage of the condition. This promotes healing and continued flexibility.
Over the counter pain medications are usually sufficient for managing pain, which resolves with time.
Only very severe cases of whiplash last for months. These are called chronic or late whiplash syndrome.
Any treatment will be tailored to your specific case, as there are many levels of severity. You may be prescribed pain killers or anti-inflammatories. You will may be asked to attend a physical therapist’s office.
As pointed out earlier, don’t hesitate to consult with your primary caregiver as soon as possible following an accident or incident that may have provoked whiplash.
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