More than two million Americans experience whiplash each year. Although whiplash can be a relatively mild condition, it can also cause long-term pain and discomfort if left untreated.
If you’ve experienced whiplash then you’re no stranger to the neck stiffness and discomfort that comes with it. Although your symptoms may resolve on their own, you’ll be at risk for long-term discomfort. Seeking out proper care early on is crucial.
WHAT IS WHIPLASH?
Sometimes called “neck sprain” or “neck strain,” whiplash occurs when there’s a forceful and sudden backward and then forward movement. This motion causes the ligaments and muscles in your neck to extend beyond their typical range of motion.
It’s important to realize that symptoms may not appear for several hours, days, or even weeks after an injury.
The most common cause of whiplash is an auto accident, and a common misconception is that only “bad” accidents can cause whiplash. However, the damage done to a vehicle in a rear-end collision does not necessarily directly reflect the extent of neck strain. Accidents at speeds even as low as 10 miles per hour can cause a neck injury.
WHAT CAUSES WHIPLASH?
Although fender-benders are the first line of thought when anyone talks about causes of whiplash, they’re not the only possible cause.
Any sudden and forceful backward and forward motion can strain the soft tissues in your neck and lead to whiplash. A few examples of other possible causes include cycling accidents, high contact sports, physical abuse, and even amusement park rides.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH?
If you’ve experienced whiplash, what can you expect to feel in the next few hours or days after the injury?
Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Headaches, specifically at the base of the skull
- Blurred vision
- Constant weariness
A few less common symptoms are associated with the effects of long-term whiplash:
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Ringing in the ears
- Inability to sleep well
- Chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, or head
You should seek immediate help if any of your symptoms spread to your shoulders or arms, if moving your head is painful, or if you have numbness or weakness in your arms. These symptoms could indicate the need for immediate intervention, and it’s important to rule out serious conditions such as stroke.
WHAT ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR WHIPLASH?
When you make an appointment at OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group, our team of experts will work with you to form an integrative plan to treat your symptoms.
We’ll ask questions about your injury, and perform a physical exam to assess your range of motion and reflexes, as well as look for areas of tenderness. As with all neck and spinal cord injuries, it’s essential to ensure there isn’t more severe damage. We’ll take digital x-rays and possibly an MRI or CT scan to ensure your pain isn’t connected with any other type of injury or degenerative disease.
Once a full assessment is complete, treatment modalities for whiplash include:
- Chiropractic Care – With precise adjustments, chiropractic care helps align your neck and back correctly to bring pain relief and healing.
- Physical Therapy – Specific exercises help strengthen and increase flexibility in your neck.
- Acupuncture – An ancient healing modality that uses thin needles on specific points on the body to treat pain and inflammation.
- Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS or PENS) – Low-level electrical nerve stimulation provides pain relief by relaxing your neck muscles.
- Massage Therapy – Relieves tension and stress in your neck and shoulder muscles.
If you’ve experienced whiplash and have pain or stiffness in your neck, don’t delay seeking treatment. Addressing the issue sooner rather than later can help prevent chronic, long-term symptoms.
Don’t let pain get in the way of living your best life. Come in and see us today and get back to feeling good again!