Car accidents are a common occurrence, and nearly everyone has been in some form of accident at one point in their life. You may have heard that one of the most common injuries suffered in traffic mishaps is whiplash, but you may not understand exactly what whiplash is.
In this blog we will discuss all you need to know about this common ailment, to help you determine both if you have whiplash, and what you can do to treat it safely and effectively.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury which is caused by a rapid, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. It’s name is derived from the fact that the movement resembles the cracking of a whip. This motion can cause injury in multiple areas, including the bones in the spine, the disks located between the bones, as well as ligaments, muscles, tissues and nerves of the neck.
This condition typically occurs when the patient is involved in a rear-end traffic accident. But an individual can also experience whiplash after a sports injury, such as a football tackle, or other type of trauma, such as a fall. It can also occur if an individual is punched or shaken forcibly. Most people with whiplash will heal within a few weeks if properly treated, but some experience long-term complications and chronic neck pain.
Is it Whiplash?
Many people do not think they have whiplash if it doesn’t appear immediately after the car accident. However, this condition can manifest days and even weeks after a trauma – although it is most common for symptoms to show up within several days. Signs that you may be experiencing whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, limited range of motion in the neck, headaches which originate at the base of the skull, tingling or loss of feeling in the arms, pain in the shoulder of upper back, pain in the neck which worsens when the neck is moved, fatigue and dizziness.
Less common symptoms may include blurred vision, sleep disturbances, difficulty with focus and concentration, ringing in the ears, irritability, memory issues and depression.
Complications You May Experience
As stated, the majority of people who recognize and treat their whiplash can feel better within a few weeks. Even more importantly, these people also rarely have long-lasting effects or chronic pain stemming from the injury.
However, some individuals do continue to suffer pain and discomfort for months or even years after the trauma took place. While there is no sure way to know which scenario you will experience, those who endure long-term pain typically had an immediate, intense onset of symptoms including severe neck pain, extremely limited range of motion, and pain that spread to the arms.
Those who were in a high speed car accident are more likely to suffer severe whiplash or complications from the condition. Other risk factors include having had whiplash on a prior occasion or existing low back or neck pain prior to the accident. The older the patient, the more likely they will experience complications as well.
While many will quickly turn to pain medications and at-home exercises and stretches, you may want to consider calling a chiropractor for treatment. Chiropractic techniques will safely and naturally realign your spine and relieve pain. The goal is to heal the source of the pain, not just mask the pain.
If you suspect you may be suffering from whiplash, call the professionals at West Coast Wellness today.