Not only have most of us heard the terms whiplash at some point in our lives, but many of us may have actually suffered from whiplash at some point, maybe without even realizing it. Which is why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of whiplash, so you can spot these signs and go and get medical treatment as soon as possible.
If car accidents weren’t already a pain in the neck, it turns out that they are also the most common cause of neck pain. There are many ways to treat whiplash, and we recommend seeing a medical professional as soon as possible. But first, let’s define whiplash.
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the rapid and forceful movement of the head back and forth. The most common cause of whiplash is car accidents, specifically rear-end collisions.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
It’s common for people who are suffering from whiplash to complain of neck strain immediately following some incident. The strain as well as other signs and symptoms of whiplash will usually appear within 24 hours after a car accident. So keep an eye out.
The top 3 symptoms of whiplash that one commonly experiences are:
1: Neck pain and stiffness
Most who have been rear-ended complain of neck pain and stiffness quite soon after the car accident. During an accident, your head is thrust forward and back and that puts a lot of strain on your neck. The muscles in your neck are then hyperextended causing damage to the soft tissue in your neck which leads to swelling, stiffness, and pain.
Tightness of the neck is one of the signs and symptoms of whiplash after a car accident. If you begin to feel tightness,
2: Loss of movement in the neck
Following the stiffness and swelling, drivers or passengers will feel a lack of mobility following a rear-end collision.
If you begin having problems moving your head to look over your shoulders, or if you can’t move your head forward or backward fully, you are experiencing the loss of movement which is common for those suffering from whiplash after a car accident.
3: Pain and muscle spasms in the arms and shoulders
The involuntary tightening of your arms and shoulders muscles can give a person high levels of pain which last for minutes or longer depending on when the muscle relaxes and the spasm subsides. You will also begin experiencing a headache, as well as pain between your shoulders, and some numbness in your hands.
A person experiencing this symptom may feel a sudden sharp pain on the neck down to the shoulders. Remember, the pain may not be isolated to your neck, car accidents can cause jaw pain and ear pain as well.
What Causes Whiplash?
The rapid forward and backward movement causes the neck tendons to stretch and tear resulting in whiplash. It is when the ligaments and muscles are stretched beyond the typical range of motion.
While most people think that whiplash happens when a vehicle is hit from behind, whiplash can occur from impacts from any direction.
One can sustain a whiplash when one of these happens:
- Blows to the head (with a heavy object)
- Physical abuse
- Hard shaking of the head
- Falling off a bicycle or amusement rides
- Contact sports; boxing and football
- Horseback riding accident
- Car accident
And even if the neck is not severely injured, it is still possible to sustain whiplash considering that the tendons and ligaments have been overly stretched and may take months to heal.
Also, according to a study, the data indicates that women are more prone to neck injuries as women’s muscles are weaker compared to men. But that does exempt men from suffering whiplash.
Home treatments for whiplash
Moderate whiplash cases will heal on their own and can be remedied at home. However, seeing a doctor is still best if you experience persistent pain and discomfort. But for now, these treatments may temporarily alleviate the symptoms:
Pain Killers: Only take painkillers when the discomfort is unbearable even if doctors recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
Ice Pack: An ice pack session for at least 10 to 30 minutes will reduce the pain and swelling.
Soft-foam Collars: Wear soft-foam collars up to 3 hours a day to lessen whiplash pain.
Seek Medical Treatment
Don’t treat whiplash lightly, because it can have a lasting impact on your quality of life. It can also be a warning that there are far worse underlying symptoms that could have been caused by the accident.
If you were hit hard enough to suffer from whiplash, there’s a chance that you could be suffering from a number of other injuries. If you think you have sustained an injury of some kind, then be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
We advise all our clients to get to a medical professional as soon as possible. There is no better way to be sure that you are not affected by a rear-end collision injury.