Feeling a bit of neck pain after a recent car accident? You might have whiplash – but that’s not the only way the injury manifests. Even if you’re feeling fine right now, you might not be in the clear. Here’s how to tell if you’re suffering from it, and what you can do if you are.
Most people know well enough to go to the doctor if their neck hurts after a car accident. That symptom of whiplash, at least, is fairly well documented. Unfortunately, it’s far from the only way the injury can manifest.
As you may already know, whiplash is named for the way it’s acquired. Your head snaps back and forwards like a whip. The tendons in your muscles hit their breaking point.
With treatment, it’s an injury you can easily recover from. Without proper care, however, complications from whiplash can become downright debilitating, maybe even permanent.
How can you avoid whiplash? First, we’ll start with common signs (and a few less-common ones).
How do I Know if I Have Whiplash?
Neck pain and stiffness are the two most common signs you’ve got whiplash. If you’re suffering from either after a collision, get to a doctor right away, especially if the pain worsens with movement. It might be a sprain, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. After all, the sooner you catch the injury, the better your chances of recovery.
Per The Mayo Clinic, a few other potential warning signs include:
- Headaches that start at the base of your skull
- Tenderness or pain in your shoulders, arms, or upper back
- Tingling or numbness in your arms
- Unusual levels of fatigue
There are also several less common symptoms which, if they’re present in combination with the others, could warrant medical care, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
If you fail to seek treatment the pain has the potential to become chronic. In other words, you might end up dealing with it for the rest of your life. Sometimes this can happen even with treatment, but that’s relatively rare unless you’ve suffered from whiplash before or are older.
What Can I do About Whiplash?
As a general rule, if you’ve been in a severe collision of any kind, it’s advisable to seek medical care even if you feel fine. Whiplash isn’t always obvious, nor does it always manifest immediately after an accident. Never mind the fact that it’s not the only injury you can suffer in a collision.
As for treatment, there are a few steps you should take. First, it’s important to use an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling in the area. WebMD recommends doing this for about 15 minutes every three to four hours for the first few days after your injury.
Beyond that, you might consider taking painkillers or muscle relaxants. Both can provide significant relief from both the stiffness and pain that often accompany whiplash. Just be careful you don’t move your neck too much while on muscle relaxants and avoid any strenuous activity, lest you worsen the injury.
Finally, if your symptoms are especially severe, physiotherapy, specifically a trigger point massage, might alleviate them. A trigger point massage targets a specific muscle or area of the body and focuses exclusively on releasing tension there. It primarily consists of applying pressure to the problem areas, with effects that are particularly pronounced in cases of chronic pain.
About the Author:
Ryan B. Bormaster is the managing attorney at Bormaster Law. The law firm practices in a number of areas but specializes in 18 Wheeler Accidents, Accidents with Commercial Vehicles such as Work Trucks and Catastrophic Injuries of all kinds.