What is a Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the muscles and ligaments in the back of your neck (cervical spine.) It’s frequently associated with (or caused by) rear-end motor vehicle collisions. An injury diagnosis is done by considering the patients medical history. Including, current & past symptoms and previous X-rays or MRI scans.
Whiplash Injury Symptoms
The most common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:
- Neck pain
- Worsening of pain with neck movement
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Headaches starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
Some people also have:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
The normal Cervical spine has a curve (called lordosis) in the shape of the letter “C.” A Cervical Spine subjected to this injury, however, often loses that normal curvature. Nevertheless, this is not always the case.
Causes of Whiplash
- Automobile accidents are a major cause of whiplash.
- Contact sports such as, football and other sports related collisons can also be the cause.
- If you are punched or shaken.
Diagnoses & Treatment
It is advisable to seek medical attention for this injury. Your physican will ask a series of questions about your symptoms. You might also be asked severity and the frequency to better understand your injury.
A physical exam will be given. During this exam you will be required to peform simple tasks, such as:
- Degree of motion that causes or increases pain.
- Range of motion in your neck and shoulders.
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulders or back.
- Reflexes, strength and sensation in your limbs.
Imaging tests may not show changes, however, they may be ordered. This is performed though to rule out other conditions. These images include, x-rays, CT Scans and also MRI scans.
There are three main goals in treating the injury:
- Pain management.
- Restore normal range of motion.
- Get you back to your normal activities.
Rest. This may be helpful, however only during the first 24 hours. Rather, too much best rest might delay recovery.
Heat or Cold. The method of applying either heat or cold can help ease pain. However, only apply 15 minutes at a time up to 6x a day.
Pain medications. To manage pain properly over the counter medications are recommended. Such as, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others.)
Injections. Lidocaine injections are administered for painrelief.
At Spine & Orthopedic Center, our spine and pain management board certified specialists can also help. For appointments, call us at 888-409-8006.