Dealing With Whiplash
Your neck is flexible and it relies on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support. "Whiplash" describes a situation where these muscles and ligaments are overstretched, much like a rope that frays when it is stretched beyond its capacity.
This overstretching results in muscle strains or ligament sprains which cause pain and a decrease in motion of the neck.
Up to 83% of people involved in car accidents sustain some form of a whiplash injury. The extent of your injury can be measured and viewed through several factors. Patients who are struck from behind in a rear-end collision will usually suffer the most significant injury.
Your vehicle does not need to be visibly damaged in order for you to sustain an injury. Rear-end impacts of less than 5 MPH routinely give rise to significant symptoms.
These sudden accidents cause a jerking motion of the neck which overstretches the muscles and ligaments of the neck causing pain. This pain may not come on immediately after an accident and can take several hours or days to manifest in the body.
Improperly positioned head restraints, wet or icy roads, having your head rotated or extended at the time of impact and being unaware of the impending collision can increase your chance of sustaining a whiplash injury.
As our bodies begin to grow older, our muscle tissues become less elastic, and our risk of injury increases. Females are on average more likely to be injured than males.
Initially, you may notice some soreness in the front of your neck that will usually fade quickly. Ongoing complaints about whiplash often include dull neck pain that will become sharper when you move your head. The pain is most commonly focused in the back of your neck but can spread to your shoulders or between your shoulder blades.
Tension headaches will regularly accompany neck injuries. Dizziness and TMJ problems are possible. Symptoms may also increase slowly over time. Rest may relieve your symptoms for a period of time but often will also lead to stiffness. Be sure to inform us if you have any signs of a more serious injury, including a severe or "different" headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, or "fogginess," difficulty concentrating, dizziness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, change in vision, nausea, vomiting, numbness or tingling in your arms or face, weakness or clumsiness in your arms and hands, decreased bowel or bladder control, or fever.
Sprain/strain injuries occur due to your muscles and ligaments going into overprotective mode. This protective mode can lead to 'stiff neck' and pain especially with rotating the neck. Seeking treatment as soon as you are able is essential. Conservative care is able to resolve most cases of whiplash, but there are cases that are more severe where radiographic imaging or visiting the emergency room is necessary.
Depending on how severe the damage of your injury is, you may need to be cautious about your activities and limit taxing and strenuous activity for a while. Pain is a normal reaction to injury and that significantly limiting your activities of daily living may delay your recovery.
The best recovery methods for whiplash injuries are time, patience, and chiropractic care. affects of whiplash injuries are typically due to muscle guarding and ligament sprains. Muscle guarding can be treated with dry needling, chiropractic adjustments, and soft tissue modalities. Ligament sprains are best treated with time and patience. You body is excellent and healing itself, but this process takes time.
Ask your doctor for specific ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report some success in pain relief from sports creams.