Whiplash is a term that describes a neck injury that occurs as a result of an auto accident. The most common auto accident is getting hit in the rear. This type of auto accident has the greatest risk of injury to the neck. The world we live in today relies heavy on car transportation. In a world with a lot of cars, there is a lot of accidents. This could be due to heavy or congested traffic in populated cities.
Whiplash at one time was called “railway spine”. The first documented case of whiplash was in 1919. Whiplash got its name when cars came onto the scene. The whipping of the neck from getting hit in a rear end accident coined the name whiplash.
A car accident can cause injuries to bones in the neck and back along with torn or over extended ligaments and tendons. Whiplash is probably the most controversial auto accident injury. The Whiplash injury is called by physicians as “distortion of the cervical spine”. Many years ago, cars did not have headrest. These days every car has a headrest. Your head at one time would never hit anything in a rear end auto accident. In modern cars your head slams against the headrest when it gets slammed backwards in the collision. This force on your head may not leave any external injuries, but it is possible that you may have suffered some internal head injuries. It is possible for the injuries to include injury to the brain. In some lethal cases, which are seldom, internal bleeding in the head after an examination has been found, although no external injuries are apparent. A woman is more likely to suffer a whiplash type injury than a man. This may be in part that the man’s neck is stronger.
You can suffer whiplash from doing more than having an accident in a car. Sports, skiing, and airplane accidents are some more causes. The rear end auto accident is the most common. Whiplash is not caused by getting hit in the rear in an auto accident; it is caused by your body getting trust forward and then getting slammed back into your headrest.
The most common symptom after a whiplash injury is neck pain or stiffness. This can occur immediately after the car accident or even after a few days or weeks.
Other symptoms may include:
- Pain in the Shoulders and Arms
- Altered sensation such as pins and needles or numbness
- Visual and auditory symptoms
- Difficulty swallowing
- Concentration difficulties
A whiplash injury might be felt at the time of the auto accident, but many times symptoms will not be felt until days or weeks later. In some cases you body will release adrenaline in the event of an accident. This might not wear off for a couple of days. Usually the first thing people will experience is a stiff neck. Sometimes you may feel a shooting pain through your neck, shoulders and back. Pain may be severe one hour during the day and not so bad at other times.
Whiplash symptoms may include pain in the lower neck or upper back. Swelling of the neck and tenderness may cause severe discomfort. You might experience muscle spasms in the back or side of your neck. Your neck will become very restricted with movement. You may have short spells of dizziness, and or ringing in your ears. Headaches are common. This is caused by pain shooting through the neck and arms or shoulders. It is possible to have blurred vision with a whiplash injury. Memory loss with loss of concentration and a reduction of mental awareness are not too common with a whiplash injury, but do happen.
How to treat Whiplash after a Car Accident
Whiplash generally happens in a car accident. It’s common for people to seek treatment at the local ER or urgent care clinic. Follow up care is recommended by an experienced accident doctor. Most ER and urgent care physicians will not do a thorough exam and usually send you home with just pain killers and muscle relaxers. Most under the care of an accident doctor with whiplash recover in two or three months. Fewer people may continue to have pain for several months or longer after the injury occurred.
Whiplash injuries sustained in auto accident can lead to more serious conditions including:
- Pinched verves
- Nerve damage
- Damaged blood vessels
- Ruptured ligaments
- Fractures in the spine
- Spine joint injuries
An accident victim should seek out medical treatment immediately if they feel pain at the scene of the car accident. If no pain is felt, one should still see an accident doctor just to make sure that there are no hidden injuries. Even bruising could lead to more extensive injuries. An accident doctor can determine the extent of your injuries and create a program for which to heal the body.
An accident doctor may recommend taking over the counter mild pain relievers or ibuprofen to aid in reduction of swelling and reduce the pressure. An accident doctor will do X-rays, but may order an MRI, or a CT scan to properly determine the extent of your injuries. An accident doctor’s goal in treatment of whiplash is to reduce the pain associated with it. Accident doctors want to restore function to the neck, back and shoulders. Proper healing occurs when pain is minimized. You should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated throughout the healing process.
Foam collars where once used quite often for whiplash injuries resulting from auto accidents. They are usually not recommended anymore. Foam collars immobilize the neck. When you immobilize the neck it can lead to decreased muscle and strength in the neck, it can also impair the recovery process. Wearing a foam collar temporally and not for extended periods of time could help you sleep better with a whiplash injury.
How quickly someone recovers from whiplash depends on a variety of factors. Your accident doctor is best to determine this since it’s usually on a case by case basis. Physical condition, age, extent of injury all plays a role in the recovery process.
This information is just general information, and should not be taken as a guide for any one person’s Injury