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Whiplash is the common result of a traffic collision. While the symptoms for this type of injury usually ease on their own without the need of specific treatment, it is suggested to manage the natural mobility of the neck and seek medical attention immediately. In many instances, people will turn to the use of painkillers to ease the pain but these only disguise the problem temporarily as they don’t directly treat the issue.

Whiplash-associated injuries are the result of a sudden, back-and-forth motion of the head as a result of an extreme force acting against the body. Because of the force from the impact of a car crash, the muscles, ligaments and other complex tissues found within the neck can stretch, or sprain, beyond the normal range, occasionally causing tears.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Since the symptoms of whiplash often manifest immediately after the auto accident, for some individuals, these can take up to several days, weeks, even months to develop. The common symptoms for whiplash include: pain and discomfort along with stiffness in the neck, usually worsening with each day, pain and stiffness may also be felt in the shoulders, down the arms, and in the upper and/or lower area of the back; turning or bending the neck may be difficult and painful; headaches; dizziness, blurred vision, pain in the jaw or pain when swallowing and abnormal sensations along the skin of the face; and finally, some individuals may experience fatigue and can have irritability and difficulty concentrating.

The appearance of any of these symptoms could indicate the presence of a whiplash-associated injury. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive a proper diagnosis and determine the true cause of the symptoms. If any of the above mentioned symptoms persist, be sure to tell a doctor immediately.

Who Can Get Whiplash?

Neck sprains, or whiplash, are actually significantly common. Many individuals who experience an undesired and unexpected automobile accident develop symptoms of neck pain with or without other injuries. It’s been previously concluded that women tend to be more prone than men to suffer from whiplash-associated injuries as the structures of their body can be relatively different.

After being involved in a minor auto collision where the vehicle only experienced minimal damage, many people are often surprised to still have developed symptoms of whiplash. Including slow vehicle bumps may cause a sufficient enough jerking motion of the neck to cause symptoms.

Although more uncommon, a whiplash-associated injury can also occur as a result of a sports injury or from strenuous physical activity. Some people have also reported injury from an everyday activity where the neck is suddenly jerked after a trip or fall.

Diagnosing Whiplash

A healthcare specialist who focuses and emphasizes in auto accident injuries is most qualified to diagnosing the presence of whiplash from the description of the incident, the symptoms the individual may be experiencing and through a careful evaluation. Because whiplash is a soft-tissue injury, many doctors may be unable to make a clear diagnosis, however, some healthcare specialists are specifically trained to identify whiplash. A careful examination of the structures of the neck, back, shoulders and arms can help determine if there’s been damage or injury to the spine or to the spinal cord or spinal nerves. Further tests may be recommended.

Treatments for Neck Sprains

First of all, the individual must continue to stay active and appropriately stretch and/or exercise their neck. The goal is to keep moving the neck as normally as possible. Initially, the symptoms may be painful and the individual may require some time to rest their neck. Nonetheless, gently exercising the neck as soon as the individual is able to can help. It’s important to now allow the structures of the neck to stiffen up and become tight.

The individual can also gradually increase the range of motion in their neck. Every few hours, gentle movements of the neck in each direction, several times a day can help avoid stiffness in the muscles and other tissues of the neck. Continuing with normal activities is crucial at this point, natural movements of the neck will not cause further damage.

Practicing healthy postural habits can also be beneficial to ease the symptoms of whiplash. While at work or during any other situation of prolonged sitting, the individual should check the posture they are sitting in. Make sure you are sitting upright, not with your head flexed forward along with a stooped back. Several stretches and exercises, such as yoga and pilates, have been used to improve neck posture, however, there is not enough evidence to support the benefits of these techniques when improving posture. In addition, a firm supporting pillow can also help ease the symptoms when sleeping. The individual should avoid using more than one pillow at this time, to avoid further injury.

Chiropractic treatment is a common form of alternative treatment that is frequently used to treat whiplash and many other types of injuries and conditions. Chiropractic care focuses on musculoskeletal injuries and condition, particularly soft-tissue injuries like whiplash, including nervous system dysfunctions. A chiropractor often utilizes gentle spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to carefully restore the natural alignment of the spine and its surrounding structures in the case a subluxation is present. By doing so, these gentle treatments can relieve the stress and pressure being placed against the tissues around the spine, ultimately reducing the painful symptoms. Additionally, the chiropractic adjustments a chiropractor performs can help strengthen the muscles and other tissues of the affected area, helping to restore the original flexibility and mobility of the structures of the body.

A chiropractor may additionally recommend a series of stretches and/or exercises to help speed up the rehabilitation process and improve the individual’s condition through muscle strength, flexibility and mobility. As with any other type of treatment for an injury or condition, time and patience are required to ensure a proper recovery. Depending on the severity of the individual’s whiplash, the recovery process can differ for each person.

Preventing Whiplash with Head Restraints

Vehicles today are being built to minimize the impact from the force of a collision against the body, particularly in the region of the neck and back. All vehicles include head restraints on the vehicle seats which can further help avoid whiplash and other types of neck injuries or conditions.  The head restraint should be placed as high as the top of the head. A properly adjusted head restraint can help reduce the chance of experiencing a serious whiplash injury or other type of neck damage as this can help stop or reduce the head from jolting backwards in an automobile accident. Safety is important and although an auto collision can be an unwanted incident, preventing harm through a few simple methods can make a tremendous difference.

For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.dralexjimenez.com

By Dr. Alex Jimenez