A whiplash injury occurs once the neck of an individual is whipped in a back and forward motion abruptly. This injury is quite common during rear-end vehicular collisions but can also occur due to sports injuries and physical abuse.
Whiplash takes place once the soft tissues of the neck are extended beyond the normal range of motion. The symptoms might not manifest right away, thus it is important to pay close attention to any physical changes after the accident. Even though whiplash is often considered as a relatively mild condition, it can cause long-term pain and discomfort.
Symptoms of a whiplash injury
The symptoms of whiplash typically manifest within 24 hours after the incident. Nevertheless, the symptoms can develop a few days after and can last for several weeks.
- Neck stiffness and pain
- Blurred vision
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Constant fatigue
The less common symptoms linked with long-term whiplash include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Inability to sleep
It is important to consult your doctor right away if the symptoms will spread to the arms or shoulders, it is painful to move the head or there is weakness or numbness in the arms.
Causes of whiplash injury
Whiplash can easily occur during certain activities such as vehicular accidents, horseback riding, physical abuse, contact sports, cycling accidents, blows to the head and falls in which the head is jerked backward violently.
When to consult a doctor
Majority of mild to moderate cases of whiplash can be easily treated at home with first aid measures such as the application of ice and over-the-counter medications. Nevertheless, you have to seek medical care if the following symptoms are present:
- Severe neck pain
- Pain or stiffness in the neck that vanishes and returns
- Bladder or bowel issues
In most cases, a whiplash injury is due to a vehicular accident. You can
press legal charges against the individual responsible by seeking immediate medical care right after the accident. Your doctor can document the condition so that you can seek damages in order to cover the healthcare costs.
Diagnosing a whiplash injury
The doctor will ask questions regarding the accident. A physical examination will be performed to determine the range of motion as well as check for areas that are tender. An X-ray will be requested to ensure that
the pain is not linked to any type of injury. Other tests such as MRI or CT scan can be performed so that the doctor can assess any damage to the soft tissues, nerves and spinal cord.
Treatment for whiplash
The treatment for a whiplash injury is simple. The basic first aid for this injury is to administer over-the-counter medications for pain such as aspirin. As for severe cases, it would require prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to minimize the muscle spasms.
Aside from medications, physical therapy has an important role in the recovery process. It is best to apply ice or heat to the affected area and practice simple exercises in order to restore strength and flexibility in your neck. Do not forget to practice good posture and learn relaxation techniques to prevent any strain on the neck muscles as well as promote faster recovery.