Two other names for whiplash are “neck sprain” and “neck strain.” This disorder commonly occurs after an injury to the neck and can result in several unpleasant symptoms. Some of these symptoms are pain in the neck, shoulders or back, stiffness, headaches, dizziness and a burning sensation in the affected location. It also is not unusual for people to have trouble sleeping and concentrating on everyday tasks. Others may feel depressed, fatigued or anxious.
What Are the Causes of Whiplash?
Whiplash is often caused by an unnatural action. In order to sustain this injury, the head must be thrown backward and then forward in an overextended manner. Whiplash is an injury that commonly occurs during car collisions, but it is most likely to occur during a rear-end crash. The victim may begin to feel pain in the neck area right away, but the pain can also take several days to manifest itself. Whiplash can result in injury to several areas in the neck, including the cervical muscles, the nerve roots, the ligaments, the discs and the intervertebral joints.
Another cause of whiplash is shaking. Small children who have been shaken often develop whiplash. It’s not uncommon for people to experience whiplash after being punched in the head. Contact sports can also cause whiplash injury. Being a woman increases a person’s chances of developing a whiplash injury because a woman’s muscles are not as strong as a man’s.
In some instances, people only suffer from whiplash symptoms for a couple of days. Sometimes, the symptoms last a couple of weeks, but these patients recover entirely from their ordeal. Generally, it takes whiplash symptoms three months to be resolved.
Some people will experience a severe case of whiplash, and their symptoms will not go away in a couple of months. It can take as long as two years for these patients to recover from this injury if there is damage to their ligaments, discs or joints. However, some people continue to experience pain long after the accident occurred even though physicians cannot determine the cause of it.
People often take over-the-counter medications to relieve pain, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Physicians suggest that patients apply ice to the area to reduce the inflammation, but they will suggest heat to relax the muscles. After the pain has been controlled sufficiently, patients will be given exercises that help to increase range of motion in the neck. These exercises are simply moving the head gently to the left, right, up and down, but they may also be instructed to rotate the head as well.
In severe cases, people need to take something stronger than ibuprofen, so their doctors prescribe a pain reliever that is to be taken on a short-term basis. If the patient is experiencing muscle spasms, the physician can inject lidocaine directly into the affected area to numb the muscle. Muscle relaxants that will be taken at night also help to alleviate spasms.
Whiplash is an injury that commonly occurs during car accidents and while playing contact sports. It can also be the result of shaken baby syndrome or being hit in the head. Sometimes, the symptoms go away after a few weeks or months, but other people experience chronic pain that lasts two years. The remedies are over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and physical therapy.