What is whiplash?
Whiplash is ache and rigidity in the neck due to an injury that has led to a sudden distortion of the neck.
It arises when the head is compelled to move forward or backward, and then head snaps occur in the opposite direction. In most cases, this kind of movement is caused by a car accident in which people is push forward by a sudden thrust due to the crash of car. Sometimes, it might be caused by a fall, a sports injury, or if you are roughly shaken. The movement leads to stretching or tears (sprains) of muscles and ligaments in the neck, and it may cause nerve damage. In rare situation, it may result in fractured bones.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash reported by sufferers include: pain and rigidity in neck and back, severe ache in your head, chest, shoulders, and arms. You also may have a headache and dizziness.
Before you are injured, you might have no symptoms at all. Or your symptoms may disappear but then come back after several days.
Symptoms may indicate that you have a more severe injury include:
Severe pain in your neck.
Referred pain down one or both arms.
Pain that return after disappearing for a few days.
Numbness or shooting pain in your hands, arms, chest, or legs.
Weakness in your arms, hands, or legs.
Difficulty in moving your head.
Your doctor will have a careful inquiry of your neck injury and your past health status, and he or she will also have your head and neck examined. Your doctor may recommend you to have X-rays test to decide whether there are fractured bones in your neck. He or she may also recommend you to have an imaging test such as an MRI or CT scan to decide other injuries.
Treatment for Whiplash
Most whiplash is relieved with the aid of home care. You can take the following measures:
Take a nonprescription drug such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers and muscle relaxants to treat persistent or acute pain.
Firstly, apply ice or a cold pack to your neck for 10 to 15 minutes once for the first 48 hours to 72 hours. Secondly, try alternative use of heat and cold to decide which is more effective for you. As a matter of fact, most people claimed that they respond better with cold. Avoid using heat when you have swelling as heat may increase swelling.
Stop taking activities such as lifting and sports that increase pain and rigidity.
Use a cervical pillow with appropriate height or a tight towel roll to have your neck supported while sleeping. Pay attention not to use the common pillow.
Relieve neck pain by supporting your neck with a soft foam collar, which is available at a drugstore. Usually, you can only wear the collar for 48 hours to 72 hours if your doctor doesn’t advise you to wear it for longer periods.
Consult your doctor to find out whether physical therapy is efficacious for you.
Resume your normal daily routines as quickly as possible.
Generally speaking, healing for neck pain will last for at least 3 months, even though most pain may go away in less time. More acute whiplash may need longer times. But it usually alleviate within 6 months to a year.
Try exercise such as neck and back stretches to make them work better after your neck pain disappears. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend the best exercise to you.
To avoid the occurrence of whiplash when driving, make sure that you wear your seat belt and your headrest is in the proper height to have your head rested back comfortably.