Whiplash and All There Is To Know
Forceful and rapid movement of the neck causes this neck injury called whiplash. It gets its name from the movement of a cracking whip that moves back and forth rapidly. Most of the time, whiplash takes place during car accidents that happen due to rear-end collisions. Alternatively, it could also happen due to trauma such as physical abuse or sports accidents.
The common signs of a whiplash injury include headaches, stiffness, and neck pain. Most of the time, the symptoms fade away after a few weeks. This is especially true if a treatment plan is included in the regimen of the victim. This treatment plan includes exercises or pain medication. However, this is not the case for everyone. Some people experience chronic pain for a prolonged period. Some people refer to it as a strain or a neck sprain.
The Symptoms of Whiplash
Most of these symptoms develop within twenty-four hours from the time that the person experiences the injury. They include:
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Pain or tenderness in the arms (anterior cervical spine), upper back(Posterior cervical spine), or shoulder (trapezius muscles)
- Headaches that start from the base of the skull
- Loss of motion range in the neck
- Worsening of pain caused by neck movement
- Stiffness and neck pain
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chewing issues and tightness of the jaw
- Sleep issues
- Tinnitus- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Swelling on the neck
If you ever are a sport or car accident victim, and you experience neck pain soon after the ordeal, then there is a high possibility that you might have experienced whiplash. There is a great need to seek medical attention immediately to establish if you have broken any bones, damaged any tissue or developed a swelling. The risks of developing complications from whiplash come from factors such as;
The age of the person
An older person is more likely to experience complications from whiplash related incidences in comparison to a younger one. This is because the bone structure of an older person has deteriorated and thus, the person is more likely to experience spread of pain to other parts of the body, spinal code injuries, broken bones, or damaged tissues and ligaments.
Previous whiplash occurrences
A person who has experienced whiplash before is more likely to experience worse effects for a prolonged time, the next time they do. This is because the body is less likely to heal itself as fast as it did the first time the person experienced the whiplash. The body is also less weak in comparison to how it was before the person experienced whiplash for the first time.
Neck or lower back pain prior to injury
This pain could be caused by damaged tissue or the disks between the bones around the neck. This means that neck region of the person is not performing at its optimum before the injury occurs. Whiplash experienced by such a person is most likely to take a long time to heal. It can be extremely painful because the pain caused by whiplash will add to the already existing pain.
Most of the damage caused by whiplash is not easy to discern through an x-ray. The medic will need specialized imaging tests like a CT scan or an MRI machine (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to see the damage. Once whiplash effects are detected, you are likely to be placed in a treatment plan that includes taking medication and physical therapy. The range of treatment that you are likely to be placed on include ultrasound, injections, ice, heat, massage, traction, gentle exercise, and medication. The likely medications you will be placed on include naproxen (Naprosyn and Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin).
Historically, whiplash used to be treated using cervical collars that immobilized the neck movements. However, as medicine advanced, doctors felt the need to increases movement during the onset of the injury. They saw that doing this increased the chances of early recovery. Within the first twenty-four hours, it is advised that the victim go through ice compression treatment and gentle neck movements.
Post-Accident of Whiplash
When a person is rushed to the emergency room, following whiplash related issues, they have to report to the first responders. They are likely to dress the victim with a cervical collar to stabilize the neck. Once the person arrives that the emergency room, the doctor is supposed to conduct a series of tests to ensure that the victim’s neck is in the right condition. These guidelines require the doctor to check on the following issues:
- Checking if other parts of the body are experiencing pains (distracting injuries)
- Normal alertness or consciousness
- Check for evidence of intoxication
- Looks to make sure there are no tender parts in the middle part of the back of the neck
- Verifies there isn’t any sensation issues or weak muscles. This is tested in three ways, namely:
- Arm and leg reflexes in their joints
- Ability to sense touches on the skin. this is done in different parts of the body
- Physical strength in the legs and arms
Self-Care for Home Whiplash Treatment
If you experience any of the above signs mildly, then you could care for your neck and spine in the comfort of your own home. Take note that if any of the above signs become severe, then you will need to seek urgent medical attention. Do not try to treat it at home, as the situation might worsen and escalate to something worse. Homecare options for whiplash aim at reducing the pain and the symptoms that are likely to cause pain. The following are some of the remedies you can turn to if you opt to care for your neck at home.
- If you engage in strenuous activities on a normal day, then reduce it. This could include carrying heavy packages, building, HIIT workouts, and strenuous sports such as acrobatics, rugby, weightlifting, or even boxing.
- Reduce the movement of your head and neck until the pain reduces. If the pain reduces but the neck is still stiff, then maintain this limited movement until you feel better.
- Try over the counter medication if you do not have a contraindication or a pre-existing condition against their use. You should consult a doctor for further direction. This will prevent you from either over or under-dosing the drugs.
- Application of cold ice packs on the neck. This reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain, altogether. Apply it in the area for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Repeat this every hour for up to seventy-two hours from the time you start feeling the symptoms.
Preventive Measures for Whiplash
- Monitoring children’s movement and activities to prevent them from incurring serious injuries and prevent them from falling down.
- Following the directed instructions when you visit amusement parks and carnival rides. This is because their high-velocity rides are a great risk of encountering whiplash. For example, roller coasters are very likely to strain the ligaments and tissues of the neck causing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Use the proper equipment when you engage in sporty activities. This includes helmets and safety belts, among others.
- When you are in a vehicle that has airbags, it is important that you fasten the seatbelt. After an accident happens, and the airbag is triggered, the velocity at which it leaves its compartment is likely to cause whiplash or more serious health issues. Additionally, try to adjust the headrest of the car to make it more comfortable for your neck to reduce neck pains during the drive or in case, an accident arises.
Depending on the severity of the whiplash injury, it takes a varied time to heal fully, as shown below.
- Severe injuries- These include the injuries that harm the nerves, disks of the spine and the ligament. They could cause permanent o chronic disability. Those falling in this category are high risk and are likely to lead to surgical intervention.
- Moderate injuries- These include the injuries that strain the ligaments and cause muscle spasms. It may take about four to eight weeks to heal from such an injury.
- Minor injuries- These injuries take about one to two weeks to heal fully.
If you are in a position where you need to speak with a lawyer, it might help give you some insight into whether you have a case to help pay for your injuries and issues.