Whiplash Neck Pain

whiplash neck painWhiplash neck pain is usually caused by car accidents. During motor vehicle accidents, our body is secured into the seat but the head is thrown forward causing too much flexion of the neck. With this, the sudden forward motion goes beyond the normal range of neck movement causing the ligaments and muscles to overstretch.

How to Identify if it is Whiplash Neck Pain?

First, you need to identify the area of the pain. A common symptom of whiplash is neck stiffness and neck pain. The kind of pain felt differs, but the location of the pain is mostly in the area over the shoulders between the shoulder blades.

Other people can also experience on and off pain which can move toward the ears and can cause painful headaches. Some would also complain of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Whiplash neck pain cannot be detected for several days after the accident happened, so it is essential for you to be aware of any changes in your neck area.

  • Know the symptoms

Except for the most obvious symptom which is neck pain, if you suffer from whiplash you may also experience blurred vision and dizziness. Other symptoms would include difficulty sleeping and memory problems. The symptoms that you feel depend on the intensity of the injury. There are cases that the injury can cause personality disorders like mood changes, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating and irritability.

  • Undergoing specific tests to identify whiplash

Before undergoing any specific medical examinations, your doctor will be asking you questions regarding your medical history, if you have been in any accidents and so on. These things are important to know if you really are experiencing whiplash. If you really have been in an accident then you will need to undergo certain diagnostic tests.

If your doctor suspects the presence of whiplash, he or she may order a series of test like X-rays or a CT scan to know if the spine or neck vertebrae have suffered any type of damage or injury, or whether you have a pinched nerve. Manual physical examinations are also very common and it can greatly help doctors establish whether the area is tender or sensitive to the touch.

Recommended treatments for whiplash neck pain

Recommended treatments for whiplash neck pain would include ice or cold therapy.  This therapy is usually recommended for the first 48 hours after the injury. It helps in reducing the inflammation and swelling of the neck muscles sustained from the accident. Heat therapy is used following the cold therapy. Heat therapy improves the circulation of blood to the injured area, supplying the necessary nutrients and oxygen needed for faster healing. Pharmacological treatment may be used if severe injuries have been sustained, and especially if the pain is already chronic.

Whiplash neck pain can be painful, and it may point toward something serious taking place when proper treatment is not done immediately. Like any other conditions, early treatment and prevention is the best intervention.

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Whiplash Symptoms

symptoms can and often manifest as an injury that happens to a person’s neck after an abrupt force of acceleration and deceleration that occurs in incidents such as car accidents. This is one of the many possible neck pain causes that can happen.

Most people who have been in a motor vehicle accident can make healing progress rapidly without the presence of chronic whiplash symptoms. However, there are still others who may feel the symptoms for years.

   Acute and Chronic Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash is categorized into two categories- acute whiplash and chronic whiplash. Acute whiplash happens when there is an abrupt hyper-extension, hyper-flexion or  rotation of the neck that causes you to experience neck pain and stiff neck. Chronic whiplash occurs when the symptoms continue for so long, approximately for six months and more after an acute whiplash.

What Causes Whiplash?

The most common cause of whiplash is probably car accidents. Especially in those involving rear-end collisions. The impact when two vehicles crash creates a force that causes the neck and head to hyperextend, or bends forward, as the torso is pushed forward. After this, the head and neck then falls backward, placing it in a hyper-flexed position. 

Whiplash symptoms include: tenderness on the back of the neck, inflammation of the neck, headaches, restricted movement in the neck, neck pain and stiff neck.

Diagnosing Whiplash Symptoms

After an accident, the person may taken to the hospital for further examination. The health care provider will then assess if there are injuries needed to be treated. X-rays of the neck are obtained to give a clear picture for any serious injuries.

If the x-ray is normal but the person still experiences whiplash symptoms such as neck pain, a doctor will order a cervical collar to be worn to relief the strain on the neck. After a few weeks of using the cervical collar, the doctor may perform additional tests, x-rays or an MRI scan. The MRI scan can detect injuries to the tissues which cannot be detected by x-rays.

Treatment of Whiplash Symptoms

The first treatment for a whiplash is the use of a cervical collar. The collar reduces the movements of the neck, thus preventing further injuries.

But there are studies shown that immobilization will slow down the healing of the neck. Patients who undergo early exercises may rapidly improve and soon alleviate the symptoms. These kind of exercises are usually done for about 10 times in an hour.

One of the most common of whiplash symptoms is stiff neck or neck pain which can be extremely uncomfortable. However, there are stiff neck remedies that could help ease the pain. Typically, the first pain medication ordered are over-the-counter drugs. 

Another common treatment ordered is temperature therapy. Temperature therapy is done by placing hot and cold compresses alternately on the neck. The heat will reduce the inflammation of the muscles and the cold compress keeps the muscles relaxed.

Another effective treatment is by performing a neck self-massage by rubbing your hands together to keep it warm then place it on the back of your neck. Do this procedure several times day to help your whiplash symptoms.