Whiplash is caused by the sudden propulsion of the head forward and then back. Usually motor vehicles accidents are the cause, but any event which causes the head (weighing between 10 and 13 pounds) to be whipped forward and back can cause pain, lost range of motion and muscle spasms.
Whiplash isn’t always immediately apparent following an incident causing it. It may not manifest for weeks following the incident. This type of injury can affect all the structures of the neck, from cervical discs to muscles to tendons.
This post concerns what you need to know about whiplash, in the event that you’ve either sustained a whiplash injury, or experience one in future.
Most common symptoms
As you’d suspect, the most common symptoms of whiplash include pain and stiffness in the neck, muscle spasms, limited range of motion and a dull headache.
But pain can also manifest as far down the spine as the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back, also affecting the shoulders and shoulder blades.
One or both arms may hurt or feel unduly heavy.
More seriously, memory and concentration can be impacted. Whiplash is also known to disturb sleep patterns and to cause depression and fatigue, in some cases.
Most people with whiplash injuries recover within several weeks of symptom manifestation, but full recovery is known to take up to 3 months. But in some cases, whiplash symptoms can persist for years.
As is the case with most injuries, the patient’s level of participation in treatment is known to have a direct effect on outcomes. A lack of participation and dependence on medical professionals to “make it better” has been proven to slow recovery.
Conversely, patients who took rehabilitation seriously and carried on with their normal, daily routines were seen to recover more quickly.
Cases of whiplash are no longer treated using a collar to hold the head in place. This practice has been proven to weaken muscles and worsen the problem. At times, doctors may prescribe a collar for a short period and only for several hours per day, especially if sleep disturbances from pain are preventing the patient from sleeping.
Generally prescribed are the application of ice and the use of over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. This is usually enough to see patients through the worst of the injury, except in particularly acute cases, but physical therapy and doctor-directed stretching will speed recovery.
For cases in which pain persists for longer than 3 months, gentle spinal traction may be recommended and/or spinal manipulation. That’s where I come in.
Back & Body NJ
The award-winning model pioneered by Back & Body Medical in Manhattan is now available for patients in New Jersey.
Using a multi-disciplinarian approach to pain relief, our team here works in 4 distinct disciplines. Chiropractic is supported by acupuncture, physical therapy and sports medicine, bringing you a one-stop facility specifically geared to addressing pain.
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury and have been in pain for more than 3 months, please contact us. We’ll stop the pain.