Top 10 Questions About Whiplash

whiplash

Whiplash, also called neck strain or neck sprain, is an injury to the neck caused by an unexpected back and forth movement of the neck. In this type of injury, cervical muscles, the soft tissues of the neck (discs and ligaments), intervertebral joints and nerve roots may become damaged. 

Here, we answer some of the top 10 questions about whiplash. 

Q1. What causes whiplash?
The most common cause of whiplash is car accidents. However, you can also get a whiplash from a sports injury, a fall, being punched or shaken violently by the shoulders.

Q2. What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash usually develop within 24 hours of the initial trauma and may include neck pain, headaches, aching in the shoulders or between the shoulder blades, muscle spasms, pain, tenderness or numbness in the arm, shoulder or upper back and dizziness or feeling light-headed. Some people may experience irritability, sleep disturbances, memory problems, and tinnitus.

Q3. How do I know if I have whiplash?
The primary way to diagnose whiplash is by physical examination since an injury to soft tissues cannot be seen on standard X-rays. The physician may require specialized imaging tests such as MRI and CT to diagnose damaged muscles, ligaments and discs that may be causing the symptoms of whiplash.

Q4. When should I see a physician?
See your physician if you have neck pain or any of the symptoms listed above after a car accident, assault, sports injury or other traumatic injuries. Getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis will help rule out the possibility of damaged tissues or broken bones that can cause or worsen the symptoms.

Q5. How long does it take to get better?
Everyone’s recovery is different. Most people get better after a few days or weeks while others recover after several months.

Q6. Who is most likely to get whiplash?
Research shows that people with flexible necks and who are not very muscular are more prone to have neck sprains and strains. This group of people includes women, young people, elderly people with neck arthritis and people with a history of neck pain.

Q7. How is whiplash treated?
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan depending on the severity of your injury. The physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments: rest, heat or cold treatment, over-the-counter pain medication or chiropractic care.

Q8. What about other therapies?
Massage, chiropractic adjustments and ultrasound can be used to ease pain, shift bones into the correct alignment and strengthen your neck muscles. Speak to the team at Neuroworks Chiropractic to find out how they can relieve your symptoms of whiplash.

Q9. What does “take it easy” mean when talking about my neck sprain/strain?
It means avoiding strenuous activities, exercises, stretches or any activity that involves jerky or sudden stressful movements. It does not in any way mean going to bed and lying around the whole day. Too much rest causes weakness in muscles and soft-tissues, especially around injured tissues.

Q10. Will I need surgery? 
Neck sprains and strains are easy to treat and do not require surgery. However, if your chiropractor finds any surgical indications at any stage an appropriate referral for surgical assessment can be facilitated.