What Is Whiplash Injury? Signs and Treatment

The term “whiplash” was first use by Crowe in the year 1928. Whiplash is relatively common among athletes and individuals who have experienced an automobile accident. It is a specific type of neck strain following a suddenrapid forward and backward movement of the neck and head, following an accident. The whiplash injury describes damage to the victim’s soft tissues.Moreover, the bone structure of the neck also gets stretched beyond limit, after an impact.

Symptoms of Whiplash

The following are the common symptoms related to whiplash:

  • Neck pain and stiffness,
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness,
  • Headache,
  • Dizziness,
  • Back pain.
  • Fatigue,
  • Arm weakness,
  • Jaw pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Arm pain, and
  • Visual disturbances,

Symptoms in a more severe case of “whiplash associated disorder” include:

  • Depression,
  • Anger,
  • Stress,
  • Drug dependency,
  • Frustration,
  • Anxiety,
  • Sleep disturbance (insomnia),
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome,

Whiplash or Sprain?

Diagnosis

It’s common to mistake whiplash for a neck sprain, but there is a difference between these two terms. Whiplash (neck strain) is caused by direct damage to the tendons (bands that connect muscles to bones) and tissue, whereas, neck sprains results from tearing of ligaments. The difference is little and may not be noticeable to the victim who is experiencing pain after an injury.

After an accident, the doctor will examine the patient’s condition to determine if he or she has any injury that requires treatment. The doctor may obtain x-rays of the patient’s neck to confirm if there is any severe injury, and may place a collar for additional support. The function of the collar is to protect and reduce the range of motion of the patient’s neck so that he or she may not suffer any additional injuries.

If the x-rays are normal, but still,the patient is suffering from neck pain, the doctor may place the cervical collar and call the patient back for a checkup in about a week. If after a week, the doctor is still concerned about whiplash injuries, he may obtain patient’s MRI or dynamic x-rays. These magnetic resonance imaging study or dynamic x-rays are better able to detect instability or damage to soft tissues of the neck, that may not been detected with normal x-rays.

Whiplash Treatments

The whiplash treatment depends on the symptoms present. The most important thing is to educate the patient about their injury so that they understand that this is a real injury. Also, they have to be careful in their neck movements. Patients that do not receive proper guidance about the treatment are much more likely to worsen their case by developing more chronic “whiplash associated disorder.”

Moreover, the treatments vary based on the severity of the condition and how you got the injury. For minor whiplash injuries, doctors’ suggestions may include taking painkiller medication and periodically icing the neck. Moderate whiplash injuries get treated by a regular massage, whereas, severe whiplash injuries are rare but may require surgery to alleviate ongoing pain. Find the best orthopedic surgeon for your whiplash treatment.

Is Exercise Or Physical Therapy Helps In Treating Whiplash?

Patients who do regular exercises, as prescribed by the doctor, have been shown to have a rapid improvement in their symptoms. It seems that excessive immobilization or rest have been shown to develop greater chances of chronic disorders resulting inincreased pain and stiffness. This is because immobilization can cause decreased blood flow to the tissues, and muscle atrophy (muscle wasting). Furthermore, physical therapy by experienced therapists can be useful in helping to recover a patient.

How to Deal With a Patient’s Psychological Symptoms?

If the patient show symptoms includinganxiety, depression or anger following a whiplash injury, prompt treatment of patient’s emotional condition is recommended. Physical plus emotional therapiescan help the patient to recover soon from ongoing chronic symptoms and considered to be the best whiplash treatments.

Can You Prevent Whiplash?

Since many cases of whiplash reported due to automobile accidents, you cannot always prevent accidents.However, technological advancements in automobile safety have reduced the associated risks of a whiplash injury.

Headrests aka head restraintsare an automotive safety feature, integrated into the top of each seat to prevent the head from sudden movement. This useful gadget mitigatesor prevent whiplash to the cervical vertebrae- in a collision.For headrests to work properly, it should be optimally positioned behind the head. And if it is placed lowered below your head,it could force the head into an excessive joint movement calledhyperextension. Many automobiles have airbags and air curtains, additional safety equipment, to protect you from further injury.

The best you can do to prevent whiplash is to invest in a vehicle which has a properhead restraint fitting. As per the studies, 72-86% of automobile head restraints are fitted wrong, which is the biggest cause of whiplash injury.

Wear Your Seat Belt and Sit Upright

Make sure you sit facing forward. Remember, even the best head restraint will be of no help if you or the passengers leaning to one side. Moreover, it is important to wear the seatbelt that further helps you to stay in the best position, as well as preventing worse injury.

Keep Yourself Distant

Leave a safe distance between your car and the car ahead of you. If it stops suddenly, you won’t need to slam on brakes. Leave plenty of room for safety.

Hopefully, these useful tips will help you and your loved ones to prevent whiplash in the unfortunate situations ofthe car accident. If, however, you face collision and get whiplash, visit the doctor and get diagnosed as soon as possible.

Find the Best Orthopedic Doctor near You

An orthopedic doctor can diagnose and prescribe the best whiplash treatment of any severity. Find the best doctor in town who can help yourelief from the neck and head pain that you are experiencing.

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