Whiplash injuries are serious and must be taken seriously. If the injury has been caused through a driving accident and the car was hit from behind, the sudden whip-like movement can cause substantial damage. The neck is thrust backwards and then, forwards rapidly and this can easily injure the bones of your spine and discs. There may be damage to the muscles, nerves and ligaments too. Neck pain occurs when the muscles and ligaments extend beyond their normal range of motion and it can be extremely painful. Symptoms do not always manifest immediately. Sometimes, stiffness or pain in the neck or shoulders can take 24-hours to manifest following the accident.
Seeking medical advice for whiplash injuries
For some people, pain takes longer to manifest. In fact, it may be days before the true extent of the damage comes to light. Following an accident or trauma, it can be tempting to go home as quickly as possible. This is understandable. When in a state of shock, you will instinctively want to get away. You may feel confused and shaky. Accidents can happen so quickly and without warning but ignoring health concerns can be detrimental. It is important to ascertain any damage quickly and this means seeking medical advice. During a medical examination, your doctor will check for neck pain or tenderness in the shoulders or back region. They will also check reflexes and the strength of your limbs. Mobility of the neck and shoulders will also be reviewed. While most people will recover fully, some will suffer from long-term health issues. It is also easy to reinjure the neck or upper back following whiplash injuries so care must be taken.
It is worth noting that car accidents are not solely responsible for these types of injury. In fact, you can experience whiplash through horse riding, through cycling accidents, or even through falling and where your head has jerked backwards in a violent motion. A blow to the head whether through assault or contact sports can also create the same injury.
The symptoms of whiplash vary. But stiffness in the neck and shoulders, headaches and prolonged acute or chronic pain is likely. Reduced mobility can be frustrating and you may find that it is difficult to turn the head. Usually, these symptoms will start to improve within a week or two and so, a little patience is called for. If the pain continues or worsens, it is important to double-check the diagnosis. Go back to your doctor as injuries can be more severe than first anticipated and could lead to weeks or even months of pain.
If you feel you may have whiplash, know that common symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Reduced movement in the neck area
- Headaches – these occur typically at the base of the skull
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Blurred vision
Following an accident, sleep can be elusive. In fact, you may find that insomnia starts to become the norm and this can impact mood. You may also feel irritable, have lapses of memory and concentration too. This can happen for a number of reasons. After any type of trauma or accident, there will be a sense of shock, you may feel anxious or wary of further injury. Car accidents can make you feel very vulnerable and lead you to an unpleasant sense of your own mortality. In addition to being in shock, you may feel disorientated or depressed following the accident.
If the symptoms of whiplash occurred quickly following the accident, your pain thereafter, may be intensified. Expect headaches, severe pain and monitor if pain begins to radiate to the arms. If you already had problems relating to the neck or back, you may experience additional symptoms too. Age also adds to the complications anticipated.
Alternate treatment options
There is no doubt that ongoing pain is debilitating and frustrating. Neck pain and reduced movement can restrict lifting and driving. Time can do wonders for any injury but if you feel that your injury is not healing as it should, it may be worth considering alternate options such as:
- Chiropractic treatments
- Physical therapy
These types of accidents can occur quickly and without warning. There are many complex health issues that can occur through whiplash injuries. These types of injuries can affect health and wellbeing for the foreseeable future. So, be sensible, monitor for health issues and seek help where necessary. Once any pain has passed, work on increasing flexibility and strengthening the back region. This will help speed up the recovery process.