Whiplash is a neck injury that is usually caused by a rear impact automobile collision, typically to the occupant of the vehicle that is rear-ended. The injury occurs when the force of the impact changes the cervical spine from its natural resting position (the shape of a “C”) into the shape of an “S.”
Whiplash may encompass a variety of injuries. They are:
Joint dysfunction is when a joint does not recover its normal elasticity and shock absorbing qualities. The result is decreased range of motion.
Disc herniation is an injury to one or more of the discs of the spine, in which the disc tears and the tissues inside protrude through the tear to irritate the spinal nerve root. The result is sharp pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness.
Faulty movement patterns result when the nervous system is overloaded with pain signals and its control of muscle function is altered.
In addition, whiplash may affect cognitive functioning of the brain and result in memory loss, difficulty concentrating, nervousness, irritability, disrupted sleep, and depression.
The symptoms of whiplash may occur immediately following an accident or they may not present for a couple of days. Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Neck stiffness
- Pain in the shoulders, back or neck.
The injuries resulting from whiplash typically heal anywhere between several days to around three months depending on severity. In some cases, residual pain will remain and reoccur from time to time.
Whiplash is usually treated with pain medication, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, or antidepressants depending on the symptoms. Sometimes a cervical collar is worn for a short period of time to stabilize the neck while it is healing. The application of heat to the injured area can also aid in pain relief and muscle relaxation.
If you have recently been in a car accident and have any of the symptoms listed above, please consult a doctor immediately to find out if you need of medical treatment. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, Florida has a Spine Institute that specializes in treating whiplash and other joint and bone disorders. If you are in need of a physician right away, you can call 1-888-741-5119 for a free physician referral.
Whiplash Information (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
What is Whiplash (Spine-Health)