Whiplash Injuries: What Are They And How Do They Occur?
When a powerful force rocks the head and neck back and forth very quickly, a whiplash injury can occur. This force causes the neck to oscillate rapidly in two directions, extending and straining the nerves, discs, and soft tissues in the area beyond their natural range of motion.
Whether the injury is caused by a sports injury, fall, or a car accident, symptoms typically show several days after the incident. Whiplash injuries have yet to be fully understood compared to other soft tissue injuries, but consulting a neck pain specialist in Singapore is the best way toward swift recovery. Read on to learn more about whiplash injuries and how to treat them.
How Do Whiplash Injuries Happen?
Events or actions involving immediate acceleration or deceleration without any time to slow down cause a rapid and forceful motion that leads to whiplash. These conditions force the muscles and ligaments outside their normal range of motion, causing a tear, strain, or sprain.
Common symptoms of whiplash can appear immediately, but they usually manifest days after the event that caused it. Most patients see improvement after doing targeted stretches for several weeks and taking pain medication. However, whiplash injuries can also develop into a chronic condition or other complications, primarily into a slipped disc.
Apart from the more common rear-end vehicle collisions, whiplash can also stem from:
- A sports injury from contact sports like martial arts or football
- A strike to the head with a heavy object
- A fall that suddenly forces your head backward
- Falling from a height during certain activities like cycling or horseback riding
Symptoms of Whiplash
Common whiplash symptoms include neck pain and stiffness that worsen when turning your head or moving the joint. Also, it is vital to note that its other symptoms may overlap with other health conditions. As such, it is recommended to see a healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis. That said, these other symptoms include:
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Lower back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Shoulder and upper-arm pain
- Unexplained fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty in focusing or concentrating
- Ringing in the ears
- Irritability or depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory problems
Furthermore, patients are at higher risk of experiencing chronic pain and other complications following a whiplash injury if:
- They have had multiple whiplash-inducing accidents
- Symptoms persisted for months
- They already have neck or back pain
- They suffered a high-speed collision
How To Treat a Whiplash Injury
Because of the risks involved, seeking medical treatment immediately following an accident that causes whiplash is highly recommended. A healthcare provider will diagnose the injury by conducting a physical examination followed by imaging tests on the soft tissues and bones to verify the extent of the damage.
After completing all the necessary tests, your healthcare provider may advise you to apply a cold compress to the affected area, wear a cervical collar, take a muscle relaxer and get plenty of rest before starting therapy and gradually engaging in more active movements.
The most common physical therapy treatments to promote whiplash recovery include:
- Manual therapy to alleviate muscle pain
- Exercises to improve neck flexibility and strength
- Exercises to improve posture and help relax the neck
When to Call Your Healthcare Provider
It is recommended to contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or do not improve within the time frame they provided or if you start to see new symptoms appear.
To this day, health experts have yet to fully understand whiplash injuries. However, it is believed that they stem from rear-end car collisions and other accidents that cause the neck to forcibly bend forward and backward quickly. If you recently suffered such an injury and are now feeling the symptoms of whiplash, reach out to Affinity Pain Clinic today to get the treatment you need.
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