When the neck moves rapidly back and forth, whiplash may occur. An estimated 20 percent of people involved in rear-end collisions later experience symptoms that center in the neck region. Car accidents remain the most common cause of whiplash; however, whiplash may also occur from sporting activities, falling, and other types of trauma. Although most people recover quickly, a small number develop chronic conditions resulting in severe pain and sometimes disability. Any time an injury involves the neck region, a patient should get an evaluation from a neck orthopedic specialist.
SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH
Symptoms of Whiplash typically present themselves within a few days of the injury. Common symptoms of Whiplash Include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Decreased range of motion in neck
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
Less common potential side effects include:
- Blurred Vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory issues
TREATMENT FOR WHIPLASH
Whiplash typically resolves itself within a few days or weeks of initial injury. Patients must receive an evaluation from a physician if suspecting whiplash. Other serious injuries often present similar symptoms to whiplash and if left on treated can cause further disability. These injuries include ruptured discs, fractures, and nerve impingements.
After a spinal physician evaluates the patient and determines the patient has whiplash, they suggest a variety of conservative treatments. First and foremost the physician suggests icing the neck. While icing the neck, the patient should place the ice on the effected area for 15 minutes every 3 hours for 2-3 days. The doctor may prescribe pain killers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and inflammation and decrease pain. For more serious instances of whiplash, the physician may suggest a neck brace or collar to stabilize the neck. Not for long term use, neck braces and collars can weaken the muscles of the neck and potentially lead to further future injury. Once the swelling goes down, patients may apply moist heat to the neck area to decrease pain. If the previous concessions to pain do not help, the treating physician may recommend ultrasound and massage. Whiplash does not require surgery.
To prevent instances of whiplash, physicians may prescribe the patient a physical therapy regimen. Physical therapy works to strengthen the muscles surrounding the neck to reduce the likeliness of whiplash or even a concussion in the future.
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