Whiplash is an injury that refers to pain in your neck after an event that violently jerks the head. This jerk can be forwards, backward, and practically in any other direction. Being the result of the acceleration-deceleration transfer of energy through the neck, it can lead to bone and soft tissue injury. This complication correlates with multiple clinical complications such as neck pain, stiffness, and other kinds of physical and psychological distress. However, other causes can also lead to this condition. It is essential to know what they are so you can prevent potential damage to your body. We will take a look at them before we jump into the numerous treatment options.
Whiplash is possible from any such activity or incident that puts an acute and intense strain on your neck. However, the two most common reasons are:
Rough Car Accidents: The violent force of a car collision can cause your head and body to move in different directions for a brief moment. In this short time, your neck muscles can undergo severe strain. When another vehicle hits your car from behind, your body projects forward, followed by your head after a split second, and accelerates forwards. This movement throws your head back and forth in a whip-like action. Upon impact, your body obnoxiously stretches into an S-shaped figure. Moreover, the accident can cause stretching and tearing of the ligaments and muscles in your neck. The discs between the cervical vertebrae and the bones in your upper spine may also be affected.
Physically-Demanding Sports: Many physical activities can put unnecessary strain on your back. Even though it may not be enough to cause whiplash, unexpected accidents in sports certainly can. If the sports you partake in are rough and physical, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a gruesome tackle now and then. One of these tackles could place an impact on your neck, leaving you injured and possibly with whiplash.
The Signs and Symptoms
After a whiplash incident, you may not notice any changes in your body or any painful sensations. However, you may start to see a few signs and symptoms in a few days. These can include:
- Pain and stiffness of the neck
- Aggravation of the pain with any movements
- A reduced range of motion around the neck
- Shooting pains starting at the skull’s base and headaches
- The arms, shoulders, and upper back becoming unusually tender
- A tingling sensation in the arms
- Feelings of tiredness and fatigue
- Disorientation in time, place, and person
Additional symptoms may include:
- Difficulty in concentration and blurry vision
- Tinnitus (High-pitched ringing in the ears)
- Depressive states and mood swings
- Irritation leading to insomnia
These symptoms can be alarming and require medical attention. If you have picked up a knock and feel like you may have whiplash, you should immediately get a check-up.
Diagnosing Your Injury
During your physical examination, the doctor will put your neck, back, and arms through diverse movements. You will have to perform everyday tasks so the doctor can check:
- The neck’s range of motion
- The extent of action that doesn’t cause pain
- Possible tenderness in the upper body
- The remaining strength and reflex activity of your arms
Moreover, the doctor will ask you multiple questions about how you ended up in this situation. These questions are only to assess how severe your potential condition could be.
Imaging tests can’t usually detect a whiplash injury. However, they eliminate other conditions that could make your pain even worse. Your doctor could call for an X-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI scan.
Whiplash Treatment – The Final Step
After the diagnosis is complete, lots of treatments will be available. The doctor will recommend options according to the severity of your condition. If the whiplash is mild, you could have self-care options such as:
- Heat or Cold Compressions: In the first few days after your injury, compressions can help prevent excessive inflammation. Applying ice to the affected area can make the pain temporarily dissipate and provide relief. The ice packs close the blood flow in small blood vessels and prevent further swelling.
- Over-the-counter Medicines: These include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The medication can cut off your body’s pain receptors and reduce inflammation.
If your whiplash injury is severe, home care does not work on its own. The following treatments are advisable:
- Prescribed Pain Medication: These effective medicines can relax the muscles and give you some relief. Including opioids and muscle relaxants, their administration is under the care of a physician.
- Chiropractic Care: If you are looking to strengthen the neck and improve flexibility, you should follow a chiropractor’s recovery program. These rehabilitation exercises can relieve you of spinal stress and decrease upper body pain. A chiropractor may use their hands to make manipulative adjustments to your spine. This manual administration can help increase the range of motion in your back.
- Psychotherapy: If your whiplash injury has left you psychologically distressed with conditions like depression and stress disorders, a psychotherapist could take that pain away. A mental health professional helps you understand these issues, so you can successfully manage them.
- Pain-Relieving Injections: If the injury has left you with painful sensations in specific regions, an injection could help. When administered to a particular target area, it can reduce tissue and nerve inflammation.
- Radiofrequency Neurotomy: You should not opt for this procedure if your condition is fixable with the other options. In this treatment, heat targets particular nerves in your body to create a slight wound. After this, the facet joints in your body can’t transmit signals to your brain that would make you feel pain.
If you do not take proper care of your injuries, your situation could become worse. If you are suffering from whiplash, you should immediately visit a doctor. The appropriate whiplash injury treatment could make all your troubles go away.