Whiplash : Common Neck Injury

Whiplash : Common Neck Injury

 

Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck when the neck jolts backward and forward suddenly.  Most cases of whiplash are caused by car collisions. Some other causes include high-impact activities like bungee jumping, football, rollercoaster, falls while skiing where extreme acceleration-deceleration forces might be applied to the cervical spine. 

The injury is usually caused due to sudden rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, just like the snap of a whip. 

Here are a few things you need to know about whiplash injury:

How Whiplash Happens

An automobile accident is one of the common incidents where whiplash occurs because the neck suffers a sudden jolt forward and backward. The neck is extremely vulnerable to injuries. It can move in multiple directions and therefore is not prepared to bear unexpected movements. The backward movement is called extension and the forward movement is called flexion, and when this happens suddenly and rapidly, the bones and tissues of the neck get damaged. 

Symptoms

 Pain is the first symptom that you’ll experience in the neck and region surrounding it in case of a whiplash injury. The symptoms vary from person to person and some people experience no pain at all. 

The most commonly experienced symptoms of a whiplash injury are:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck, especially while turning from side to side.
  • Headache and tension in the neck and shoulder region.
  • Difficult in eating, swallowing, and moving the jaw.
  • Pain in the upper back and dizziness.
  • Tingling sensations in the neck and upper back region.

Dizziness usually indicates a concussion and serious injury to the neck can also cause damage to cervical muscles and joints connecting the vertebrae. 

Diagnosis

If you’re experiencing pain in the neck region, get checked by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They will recommend you certain imaging tests such as X-ray to make sure there are no fractures and CT Scan or an MRI in case of severe injuries.

Treatment Options

The issue with treatment for whiplash is that it requires activity to heal which can be a task for those who have a stiff and nearly immobile neck. However, a little effort does go a long way.

At the beginning of the healing process, a brace is recommended, usually a soft cervical brace to prevent further injury to the neck by sudden jerks or unregulated movements. The next treatment which you can perform at home is ice–hot therapy. This will help greatly in reducing muscle spasms.

Over-the-counter painkillers can be very useful if you’re experiencing pain and swelling.

Physical therapy and spinal manipulation are also very effective in restoring mobility and strength in the neck region. This should be done strictly under Doctor’s observation. Complementary Therapy will help in increasing blood circulation and accelerate the healing process. Following ergonomics guidelines, while driving and long hours of sitting will help in preventing whiplash injuries.

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