Whiplash describes what happens when these tissues are stretched too hard or too far, much like a rope which frays when it is stretched beyond its capacity.
What You Need To Know About Whiplash
Whiplash is a non-medical term typically describing the ‘whipping’ motion that occurs when someone is struck from behind usually in a motor vehicle accident.
It is a complicated disorder and can be responsible for a number of symptoms such as: neck pain, headache, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, dizziness, and ringing in the ears as well as other symptoms.
Many of the symptoms associated with concussion overlap with the symptoms of whiplash. Having experienced doctors making accurate diagnosis is critical in the timely recovery from motor vehicle collisions.
We realize you have a choice where to get care for your automobile related injuries. If you, a friend or family member requires care for a car accident, we sincerely appreciate the opportunity to help with the recovery.
The extent of your injury can be predicted by several factors. Patients who are struck from behind in a rear-end collision generally suffer the most injury. Being struck by a larger or heavier vehicle also increases your risk.
Your vehicle does not need to be visibly damaged in order for you to be injured. In fact, the amount of damage to your vehicle has little relationship to your injuries. Most modern cars have shock-absorbent bumpers that minimize damage to the vehicle but do not necessarily protect the occupants in low-speed collisions.
Even rear end impacts of less than 8 km/h routinely give rise to significant symptoms.
Whiplash symptoms may begin immediately or have a delayed onset.
Initially, you may notice some soreness in the front of your neck that generally fades quickly. Ongoing complaints often include dull neck pain that becomes sharper when you move your head. The pain is generally centred in the back of your neck but can spread to your shoulders or between your shoulder blades.
Tension headaches commonly accompany neck injuries. Dizziness and TMJ problems are possible. Symptoms may increase over time. Rest may relieve your symptoms but often leads to stiffness.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any signs of a more serious injury, including:
- a severe or "different" headache
- loss of consciousness
- "fogginess" in your thinking or vision
- difficulty concentrating
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
- change in vision
- tingling in your arms or face
- weakness or clumsiness in your arms and hands
- decreased bowel or bladder control
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to limit heavy activity for a while, but you must understand that pain is a normal reaction to injury and that significantly limiting your activities of daily living may delay your recovery. You should try to "act as usual" and resume normal daily activities as soon as possible.
Avoid heavy lifting, and take frequent breaks from prolonged activity, particularly overhead activity. Avoid wearing heavy headgear, like a hardhat or helmet, if possible.
Cervical collars rarely help and should be avoided unless otherwise directed. You can apply ice for 10-15 minutes each hour for the first couple of days. Heat may be helpful thereafter.
Ask your doctor for specific ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report partial relief from sports creams.