Whiplash is a term used loosely for neck strain or neck pain after car accident, caused by the jerking of neck forward or backward, tearing through muscles and tendons. Symptoms include but not limited to neck pain, muscle tightness, limited in range of motion, dizziness, sleep disturbance, memory issues, stiffness or tenderness, headache. Treatment includes but not limited to pain killers, muscle relaxants, neck brace, acupuncture, physical therapy.
Car accidents can have traumatic effects on your body. If you are involved in an accident at just 30 miles per hour and you are not wearing a seat belt, the impact on your body is equal to a fall from 30 feet in the air. Even with a seatbelt, certain injuries – namely whiplash – are incredibly common following auto accidents. Below, you can learn more about whiplash and the various treatment options.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs due to sudden movement of the head, either back and forth or from side to side. During an auto accident, the sudden acceleration or deceleration of your car can cause your head to move in this way, essentially extending it beyond its normal range of motion. Injuries may include sprains, strains, and in some cases even spinal injury.
How to Know if You Have Whiplash
If you are in a car accident, it is always important to be seen by a doctor afterward. Many people who sustain injuries in accidents feel fine at the scene, then develop severe pain later in the day – or even the next day. When you are involved in an accident, your body produces a great deal of adrenaline, which is a hormone that can mask physical pain. Once that adrenaline wears off, your pain will become more apparent.
How to Treat Whiplash
Whiplash treatment depends primarily on the symptoms you experience and the extent of your injuries. At the doctor or hospital, you will first need an X-ray. This is important for diagnosing potentially serious injuries. For many years, the most common whiplash treatment involved limiting the patient’s range of motion with a soft collar around the neck while the injuries heal, but recent studies have shown that this may not be an effective treatment after all.
Today, more doctors than ever before advise their patients to do range of motion exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist. These can help strengthen your neck muscles a great deal and assist in the healing process. In some cases, you may also be referred to a chiropractor, who can use spinal manipulation techniques to help improve your range of motion and even relieve your pain. Whiplash is a very common injury following auto accidents, and it is often one of the most overlooked injuries, as well. If you have been involved in an accident, seek medical treatment right away – even if you are not in pain. The faster you can get diagnosed and treated, the better.