Category: Neck Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 1, 2017
Whiplash is a painful injury that occurs when our head and neck are thrust forward or backward at high speeds. This violent motion can strain muscle structures and injure discs and nerves in our spinal canal. Today, we share five things you should know about whiplash.
How Does Whiplash Occur?
Whiplash occurs when your head is thrust forward or backward in a violent manner. The most common cause of whiplash is being rear-ended in an automobile accident. The force of the collision throws your body forward, but your head tends to snap backwards due to the forces of motion. The sudden movement can cause injury to the joints, muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine. While car accidents are the most common cause, you can experience whiplash in other situations where your body is thrust in one direction and your head flies in the other direction. An unexpected hit in football or being ill-prepared on a roller coaster can lead to whiplash.
What Are The Symptoms of Whiplash?
Since whiplash usually affects the cervical spine in your neck region, the most common symptoms include regionalized pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, muscle spasms and a burning or tingling sensation.
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms after a car accident or any situation where your neck was traumatized, consider setting up an appointment with your doctor or a spine specialist. They’ll conduct a physical exam and follow up with any necessary imaging tests, like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. X-rays help to reveal fractures, while the other imaging techniques can expose injuries to the soft tissues in the neck and upper spine.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
Whiplash is generally treated using conservative methods that give the injured structures time to recover but also work to strengthen the neck and increase range of motion. Common treatment options include rest, stretching techniques, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and if necessary, a soft or hard brace may be used to help immobilize the neck while it recovers. Severe cases of whipash may be treated with trigger point injections, and surgery may be ordered if whiplash caused a disc to herniate.
How Can I Prevent Whiplash?
Whiplash is hard to prevent because the injury usually occurs as a result of a sudden and unexpected force that thrusts your head in one direction, but that’s doesn’t mean you can’t take some steps to reduce your risk. When driving, always wear your seatbelt and keep your chair back positioned in an upright position. If your seat is deeply reclined, you probably won’t have your head against the headrest in the event of an accident. When it comes to preventing whiplash during athletic activity, always practice proper contact techniques and always wear proper protection like padding or helmets to protect against injury.