What is Whiplash?
What is whiplash? It is a very common injury that can happen to the neck when you apply a sudden deceleration causing a quick backward/forward of the head. For example, you may experience whiplash if you are driving along in your car and suddenly have an accident. Although the vehicle may come to a sudden stop, your body still moves forward and does not stop until it is fully restricted by the seatbelt. At this point, your head still carries momentum and stretches forward before violently bouncing back. That stretching can cause damage to both the bones in your neck as well as the soft tissue. The term we use to describe this damage is whiplash.
Any impact that causes your head to jerk back and forth can result in neck strain, even a slow collision. Other whiplash causes can be traced back to contact sports such as football. Neck strains are not to be confused with neck sprains. Strains are caused by damage to the neck resulting from a sudden force, usually in the muscle or tendons. Sprains are tears of the ligaments that connect bones to one another. The symptoms tend to be similar.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms tend to include pain coupled with a limited range of motion as well as tightening in the neck. Other symptoms include pain when moving your head forward, backward or sideways, tenderness, and headaches at the base of the skull. Sometimes the pain is manifested immediately, but at times it can take days before you start to notice the pain. Shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, back pain, and even arm weakness may also appear as signs of whiplash or neck strain. Keep in mind that everything is connected and what affects one area can have a domino effect.
If you have whiplash it is crucial to have a doctor take a look at you as the cause for the whiplash may have caused a concussion as well. Concussions can be severe, and you should seek out a doctor immediately if you have trouble talking, are confused, nauseous, dizzy or unusually sleepy.
What Can You Do If You Have Whiplash?
The first thing, of course, is to seek medical help. Aside from that you should:
- Ice your neck to help with the swelling and pain by applying cold for about 15 minutes every 4 hours or so.
- A massage might help but be sure to be gentle.
Like with most things, the quicker you receive a diagnosis, the earlier you can start treatment. If you think you may have strained your neck come visit us right away. With 17 locations all over Los Angeles, free parking at all of them, very affordable prices, and extended hours, the UrgentMED Network is the perfect choice to take care of your neck. Find the location closest to you.