Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement in the neck.
It’s called whiplash because the movement reminds the cracking of a whip. The injury itself may involve the muscles, discs, nerves and tendons in your neck.
The causes of whiplash usually involve some sort of accident, such as car accidents (with sudden acceleration or deceleration), sports accidents, physical abuses or other types of traumas that make you bend your neck forward and backward.
What are the most common symptoms of whiplash?
The symptoms of whiplash includes:
- Neck, shoulder or lower back pain;
- Neck stiffness;
- Pain and numbness in your arm or hand;
- Ringing in your ear;
- Blurred vision;
- Concentration and/or memory problems;
- Irritability, sleeplessness and fatigue.
Complications and risk factors
Most people who have whiplash feel better after a few weeks and don’t have any lasting effects from the injury. But there are some people who experience pain for several months and even years after the injury happens.
It’s difficult to guess if a person will develop chronic pain, but it’s very likely if your first symptoms were very intense, started rapidly and included severe neck pain spreading to the arms and limited range of motion.
But if you’ve had whiplash before or an existing low back or neck pain, was in a high-speed injury or are older, it’s very possible you’ll develop this type of pain.
How to diagnose Whiplash?
After the injury and with the symptoms starting to show up, it’s best if you go see a doctor to properly diagnose and treat Whiplash.
Your head, neck and arms will be touched and moved during examination, to check the range and degree of motion of your neck until the pain starts or increases. Also will be checked tenderness, reflexes, strength and sensation in your shoulders, neck and beck.
The doctor can also order some image textos to rule out other conditions that could be degrading the neck pain. The tests include:
- X-Rays – to overrule fractures, dislocations or arthritis.
- Computerized tomography (CT) – to see a cross-sectional image of bone and show possible bone damage;
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – to check for bone injuries, and other soft tissue injuries such as damage to spinal cord, discs and ligaments.
Can whiplash be treated?
After the doctor understands the extent of the injury, a treatment plan will be traced for you to follow to help control the pain, restore the range of motion in your neck and let you do your daily activities.
The treatment may include:
Pain decrease strategies, such as:
- Resting for a couple days after injury to help you recover;
- Heat and cold therapy to help you feel better;
- Pain medication, like over-the-counter pain relievers to control moderate pain, but also NSAIDs can help.
- Muscle relaxants for a short period of time, just to loosen tight muscles and sooth pain;
Exercising is a very helpful way to treat whiplash, especially a series of stretching and movement for you to do at home. Any exercise that can help you recover the range of motion and movement from your neck is great.
Other alternative treatments, like physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic may help with the pain and motion in the neck.
These alternative therapies can also help to prevent other injuries but strengthen the muscles on the neck, shoulders and back, improve the posture and restore de movements.
A chiropractor performs joint manipulation techniques, and provides pain relief and paired with exercise and physical therapy. And acupuncture, when inserting needles through specific areas of your skin, can offer some relief from the pain.
If you have any more questions or just want the best team to look out for you, request an appointment with one of the doctors here at BCWNYC.