Whiplash is a type of spine injury caused by a sudden forward, backward or sideward movement of the head. This high jolt movement causes soft tissues in the neck to become stretched and damaged.
Whiplash often gets better within a few weeks, but for some people, it can last longer and can limit their activities.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Whiplash?
It can take several 8 - 10 hours for the classic symptoms to develop after the injury. The symptoms often get worse the day after the injury.
Common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:
- Neck pain and tenderness
- Neck stiffness
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty moving your head
- Pain in the arms and shoulders
Less common symptoms include dizziness, tiredness, tingling sensations in your arms and hands, irritability, memory loss, and poor concentration.
See your physician if you have any neck pain or other whiplash associated symptoms following a car accident, sports injury, or another traumatic incident. It's essential to get a prompt examination and to rule out tissue damage or broken bones that can worsen symptoms.
What Are The Causes Of Whiplash?
Whiplash typically happens when your head is quickly and forcefully thrown backward and then forward. This forceful movement can injure discs between the bones, bones in the spine, nerves, ligaments, muscles, and other tissues of the neck.
The most common causes of whiplash include:
- Auto accidents - Rear-end crashes are a significant cause of whiplash.
- Physical assault or abuse - Whiplash can occur if you are shaken or punched. It's one of the physical traumas seen in shaken baby syndrome.
- Contact sports - Sports-related collisions such as football tackles can sometimes cause whiplash.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
No single treatment therapy has been proven as effective for whiplash, but conventional methods for pain relief have been helpful for certain patients, such as the use of painkiller drugs, along with gentle exercises, traction, physical therapy, heat and cold massage, steroid injections and ultrasound.
In the past, whiplash was often treated with immobilizing the cervical collar. However, the current aim is to promote the early movement instead of neck immobilization. Ice is usually recommended for the first few hours, followed by the gentle movement of the neck muscles.