Whiplash is a neck injury that arises due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. This can also cause by sports accidents, physical abuse, and other types of traumas. However, Whiplash is mainly caused by rear-end car accidents. Whiplash is also called a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries.
The one who develops neck whiplash gets better day by day or within a few weeks by following a treatment plan that includes pain medication and exercise. However, some people might have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complication.
Whiplash Injury Causes
Whiplash mostly occurs when your head is forcefully and pushed backwards and then forward. This motion can injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, muscles and other tissues of the neck.
A whiplash injury may result from:
- Auto accidents: This is associated with rear-end collisions are a major cause of Whiplash.
- Physical abuse or assault: It can occur if you are punched or shaken. It's one of the injuries that have been seen in shaken baby syndrome.
- Contact sports: This injury also arises from football tackles and other sports-related collisions that can sometimes cause Whiplash.
Whiplash symptoms usually appear 24 hours after the incident, which caused the Whiplash. Sometimes, these symptoms may develop after a few days or a week, but they can last for several weeks.
Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Some headaches, specifically at the base of the skull
- Blurred vision
- Constant weariness
There are less common symptoms associated with chronic Whiplash, including:
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Ringing in the ears
- Inability to sleep well
- Acute, chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, or head
The doctor will do specific tests or scans to examine the patient condition and ask them about any recent accidents, sporting events, falls, or blows to the head.
The following imaging scans may be examined, especially if a spinal injury is suspected:
- X-ray – this examines the broken bones or other conditions, such as a spinal fracture, arthritis, or dislocations.
- CT (computerized tomography) scan – X-ray images are taken from different angles, and a more detailed picture of the bone and soft tissues can be seen on a monitor.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans – this is examined by radio waves, and a strong magnetic field gradually produces a detailed picture of the affected area. The doctor will be able to detect soft tissue injuries through MRI.
Whiplash Injury Complications
Whiplash injury is seen in a small percentage of patients who have chronic (long-term) pain, which can persist for six months or longer. This long-term pain can make it more difficult for the patient to do their daily activities, as well as carrying out many everyday functions.
When to see a doctor
Consult with your doctor if you have any neck pain or other whiplash symptoms from a sports injury, after a car accident, or another traumatic injury. It's important to get essential treatment and accurate diagnosis for broken bones or other damage that can cause or worsen symptoms.
The treatments for Whiplash are relatively simple. Doctors may prescribe an OTC pain medication like Tylenol or aspirin. In some injuries cases, it may require prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms.
In addition to medication, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery. You may want to apply ice or heat to the injured area and practice simple exercises to build strength and flexibility in your neck.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the long-term effects of Whiplash?
This can be the remaining long-term effects of Whiplash, which include: Ongoing bouts of dizziness, ringing in the ears that is constant or comes and goes.
How do you know if Whiplash is serious?
If you get any neck pain or other whiplash symptoms after a car accident, sports injury or other traumatic injuries, then you should visit or consult with your doctor.
Can you get permanent damage from Whiplash?
This can cause permanent damage and severe injuries if it is severe enough in terms.