Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs due to a forceful back and forth motion. While it is most commonly caused by rear-end automobile collisions, it can also stem from a sports injury, physical abuse, or other types of trauma. If you suspect you may have whiplash, read on to learn more about the key signs of this injury and the steps you can take to expedite your recovery.
Symptoms of Whiplash
This injury most commonly manifests with neck pain and stiffness that worsens when you try to move your head. Headaches beginning at the base of the skull along with pain, tenderness, tingling, or a numb feeling in the shoulders are core symptoms. Additionally, people with whiplash may also experience blurred vision, ringing ears, trouble sleeping, difficulty remembering and concentrating, irritability, and depression.
While this injury often resolves itself within a few weeks, it's important to see your doctor to rule out a more serious problem. Untreated whiplash can lead to complications like chronic neck pain. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination, including evaluation of the range of motion in your neck and shoulders, the degree of pain experienced with movement, and the strength and sensation present in your limbs. He or she may recommend other tests, such as X-ray, CT, or MRI scans, to check for fractures, dislocations, and other injuries.
Treatment for Whiplash Injury
Home care can help reduce the symptoms of your whiplash injury. You should rest as much as possible during the 24 hours following the injury, but prolonged bed rest after that period can delay healing. Apply ice to your neck and other painful areas for 15 minutes at a time up to six times a day. Over the counter medications may also help ease the pain. Your doctor may recommend exercises to help restore range of motion and ease you back into normal activities. If pain is severe and is not alleviated with these methods, your doctor may prescribe prescription pain medication, muscle relaxants, or lidocaine injections. Some people with whiplash have experienced relief through alternative medicine techniques, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation.
See your doctor right away if you've been involved in an auto accident or other incident and are experiencing any of the symptoms described above. Experts at Clearfield & Kofsky advise you to contact an attorney as you may be entitled to a settlement to compensate you for treatment, lost wages, and pain. Though pain may appear minimal at first, whiplash should never be ignored in order to prevent further back and spinal problems.