In this article, we have compiled in-depth information about whiplash, symptoms, and why you should seek treatment.
Unfortunately, if you have ever involved in a car accident, chances are your back or neck has been injured.
The spine is the central part of your body, and at the same time, their complicated workings are prone to injury.
A sudden stop or crash can result in critical injury.
Let’s get started!
Whiplash is another form of muscle injury, and the head is the major catalyst.
When your vehicle suddenly stops due to an accident, the head often whips abruptly one way or another.
For the speed and considerable force of the movement, the spine and other crucial areas are injured.
You can even suffer from wounds in your muscles, nerves, and connective tissues.
Whiplash is apparent when it comes to neck and shoulder pain.
Though you can also experience agonizing pain.
Numbness and burning often begin in the neck that later moves up the arm.
Severe whiplash cases can result in headaches, neck instability, poor vision, and concerns with balance.
While you experience computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), many people have normal imaging outcomes.
This is because the injury occurring in structures is very small to be detected in this examination.
This also holds true if you are suffering from any pain.
Symptoms are the foremost way to tell if you have whiplash.
In many cases, neck pain frequently goes away in some days or last more than three months.
According to research, several people have persistent neck pain from 12 to 50 percent after a year.
This pain can further alleviate the following conditions.
You are suffering from critical pain right from the beginning
Pain develops immediately after the accident
You may encounter neurological symptoms such as memory loss
Feel immense pain in arm or fingers
The spine is segmented into three different areas, including cervical vertebrae (neck), lumbar vertebrae (lower back), and thoracic vertebrae (upper back).
Every area of the spinal cord and its vertebrae is enclosed by muscles, nerves, tendons, discs, and ligaments.
If any of these is injured, you will feel pain with varying intensity – from mild to extreme and from temporary to permanent.
Thoracic Spine Injuries
Typically, injuries associated with the thoracic spine are the most critical ones.
The thoracic spine or upper back is directly connected to the chest and ribs.
Twists and fractures in this specific area are mainly because of high-velocity car accidents.
This may also result in permanent nerve damage.
Lumbar Spine Injuries
The lumbar spine comprises of the five largest vertebrae and the sturdiest muscles important to provide adequate stability to the spine.
Any sort of strain or sprain to the lumbar spine can be quite fatal.
A sprain primarily involves injury to the ligaments, while a strain can result in stretching of the muscles or ligaments.
Any of these injuries can restrict movement and cause swelling or bruising.
Also, it can strongly affect your everyday activities.
If you have involved in a car accident, you may experience herniated discs.
Discs are referred to as cushions that detach the vertebrae and guard your spine.
A herniated disc occurs when the disc is dislocated.
It exerts pressure on the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves.
Abrupt and intense pain in the lower back or numbness in the legs are common symptoms.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most critical back injuries involve the spinal cord.
Spinal injuries range from hurting or extreme pressure to permanent damage to the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
This may result in long-term disability.
In more serious cases, spinal cord injuries may cause complete or partial paralysis or loss of reflex function.
Primarily depending on the type of injury or the treatment being received, spinal cord injuries are also at risk of developing secondary medical concerns such as spinal fluid leaks, blood clots, and infection.
When to See a Doctor?
You need to visit a doctor after a whiplash car accident.
You may encounter any related symptoms after a car accident, traumatic injury, or sports injury.
It’s crucial to get an immediate and accurate diagnosis.
Most people who suffer from whiplash may feel better within a few weeks and doesn’t appear to have long-lasting effects from the injury.
Still, some people continue to suffer from pain even after several months.
It is somewhat challenging to predict how every person with whiplash may recover.
Typically, you are more likely to suffer from chronic pain if the initial symptoms were intense.
Let’s see a few of them:
Serious neck pain
Restricted range of motion
Pain spreading in the arms
These symptoms can get even worse if you had whiplash before, any high-speed injury, or having existing low back or neck pain.
Treatment for Whiplash
The treatment for whiplash is relatively simple.
Doctors will frequently prescribe an OTC pain medication such as aspirin or Tylenol.
More serious injuries may need prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to minimize muscle spasms.
Apart from medication, physical therapy plays an important role in recovery.
The doctor may apply ice or heat to the wounded area and practice certain exercises to build strength and flexibility.
You will frequently perform good posture and learn relaxation techniques to keep your muscles from strain to assist with recovery.
In some cases, you might be provided with a foam collar to keep your neck stable.
Though these collars cannot be worn for more than three hours.
They are often used in the initial stages of recovery.
Whiplash is a common injury that results when the soft tissues of your neck stretch beyond their normal range of motion.
These symptoms may not appear immediately, so it’s imperative to pay attention to any physical changes after a few days following the accident.
Whiplash is believed to be a mild condition, but it can certainly have long-term pain and discomfort.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or injuries, it’s time to consult a doctor.