Whiplash

OverviewTreatments

Symptoms

Symptoms accompanying whiplash include neck pain and swelling, decreased motion, tenderness along the upper portion of the back and neck, muscle spasms and possibly headache.

Description

Whiplash is a sprain or strain of the muscles and ligaments in the neck (cervical spine) caused by sudden and forceful movement of one’s head in a backward-then-forward motion. This occurs most commonly from a deceleration injury, as seen in automobile accidents.

Mild cases of whiplash are typically treated with over-the-counter pain medication and ice applied to the injured areas. If pain continues, prescription medication, physical therapy or chiropractic manipulation may be advised.

Full Description of Whiplash

Whiplash is a sprain or strain of the muscles and ligaments in the neck (cervical spine) caused by sudden and forceful movement of one’s head in a backward-then-forward motion. This occurs most commonly from a deceleration injury, as seen in automobile accidents. Whiplash can occur whether the force is directed from the front or from behind. Symptoms accompanying whiplash include neck pain and swelling, decreased motion, tenderness along the upper portion of the back and neck, muscle spasms and possibly headache. In severe cases, “neurologic-like” symptoms may develop even without injury to neural structures. Symptoms can include dizziness or other balance complaints, vision changes, nausea and referred symptoms into the extremities.

Screening and Diagnosis of Whiplash

Once you are stabilized, the doctor will take a complete medical history and physical examination to assess the degree of injury. In addition to examining your head and neck, the doctor will test your muscle strength, sensation of your extremities and reflexes. X-rays may be used to rule out fractures or instability of the spine.

Treatments for Whiplash

Mild cases of whiplash are typically treated with over-the-counter pain medication and ice applied to the injured areas. If pain continues, prescription medication, physical therapy or chiropractic care may be advised. As long as more serious lesions have been ruled out, appropriate treatment for whiplash involves appropriate rehab exercises, strategies for symptom relief and time. In severe cases, whiplash symptoms may persist to some degree for months or even years. It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you.

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