Although commonly used to refer to the dizzy feeling one gets after being moved around rapidly, whiplash is actually much more serious than this. It is classified as a serious injury to your spinal system and can result in great pain and further complications if left untreated.
Whiplash occurs when a person’s head moves back and forth very quickly and with great force. This is where its name comes from, referring to the motion that a whip makes when it is cracked. When this motion occurs, the muscles and ligaments in the neck are stretched beyond their usual range of motion, causing sprains and strains. While still mild in comparison to more serious and fatal neck injuries, it can still cause pain and discomfort for a long while after the incident.
What you need to know about whiplash:
What can cause whiplash injuries?
The most common cause of whiplash is the force resulting from a car accident. Particularly fatal are those wherein the vehicle is struck from the rear, with the force of the collision propelling the neck forward. Whiplash may also result from accidents involving horseback riding and cycling, such as from falling from these at high speeds.
Engagement in contact sports also increases the odds of developing whiplash. These sports include football, karate, and boxing, where blows to the head and collisions with other individuals are common.
Lastly, whiplash may also result from physical abuse. If an individual is constantly punched or shaken, this motion can result in whiplash.
What are the symptoms of whiplash injuries?
Symptoms of whiplash injuries do not normally appear right away. However, once they do, it is important to pay attention so that you can seek treatment right away.
The most common symptoms are stiffness, pain, and loss of motion in the neck, as well as headaches that are primarily concentrated at the base of the skull where the head connects to the neck. You may also experience fatigue, weariness, dizziness, and a tingling or uneasy feeling in the arms and fingers.
Other possible symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, and ringing in the ears. You may also become more irritable and lose the ability to concentrate and sleep well.
What can result from whiplash injuries?
If left untreated, the pain resulting from whiplash injuries can be long-lasting. In rarer cases, some still experience pain months after the incident, even with treatment.
Recovery from whiplash injuries varies from person to person. However, certain individuals are at greater risk for complications or prolonged recovery. These include the elderly and those who have a history of pain and injuries to the neck and back.
How can whiplash injuries be treated?
If you think you may have whiplash, it is best to seek treatment right away. Even in smaller cities like Layton, Utah, there are many professionals who can diagnose if you have whiplash and help you on the road to recovery.
Doctors will usually recommend you wear a foam collar in the following days for a few hours at a time. This will help keep your neck stable to allow the muscles and soft tissues to heal. You may also be prescribed pain medication and — in more severe cases — muscle relaxants and painkillers.
Physical therapy is also important in recovery. This will help you regain strength and mobility in your neck without causing further harm. You may also opt for some alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, massage, electrical nerve stimulation, and acupuncture.