Wednesday, December 15, 2021

How do I know if I have whiplash?


If you feel pain in your neck or pain that radiates down from the neck, you may have whiplash. This feeling may have appeared as a result of being in a car accident or another situation in which your head suddenly snapped forward and back. It is common for this injury to appear when playing sports, when someone gets punched, or through physical abuse, when someone gets roughly shaken by the shoulders. In all of these cases, the neck flexes and then hyperextends in a short period, normally not more than a few seconds. And if tears in small blood vessels accompany these movements, the injured party may also experience pain and swelling.

Main Signs of Whiplash

Whiplash can show up immediately after the accident, or it can take several days to appear. If you want to be on the lookout for whiplash symptoms, keep an eye out for any or a combination of the following:

  • Stiff neck
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems

Getting a Whiplash Diagnosis

Visiting a medical professional to diagnose whiplash means starting with a thorough physical exam. After this, your physician may consider whether an MRI, a CT scan, or an X-ray is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Some of these injuries are so small that it is difficult to find them in any of the above tests. If so, your doctor will rely mostly on your explanation of what you are feeling and when these feelings began.

Risk Factors Associated with Whiplash

Some people are more prone to experience whiplash, mainly because they:

  • Are younger
  • Are female
  • Have a persistent history of neck pain
  • Have been hit from behind by another vehicle
  • Are hit while their car is stopped
  • Have a job that entails repetitive motions, which may make them more prone to having tight neck muscles before the accident

How long can you expect whiplash to last?

For many, the pain associated with whiplash tends to disappear within a few days, and others are rid of it after a few months. However, it has been estimated that up to half of all the people who experience whiplash may still experience persistent pain in their neck even one full year after the accident. This tends to happen to people who:

  • Felt severe pain from the moment the accident took place
  • Feel pain developing shortly after the accident
  • Feel pain shooting into their arms or fingers
  • Have neurological issues such as memory loss

In general, the more severe the pain is after the accident and the more anxiety that accompanies it, the greater the chances of it developing into a chronic problem.

Whiplash Treatment

The point of whiplash treatment is to diminish the pain and regain the range of motion of the neck. Physical therapy is important with a concentration on stretching, rotating, and bending the neck back and forth. While before, patients were advised to wear a neck brace when they experienced whiplash, these days, the recommendation is that it is more important to keep the muscles and joints moving to achieve improvement.

If you are still feeling pain after about three months, it may be a good idea to read more here on how your doctor can better evaluate and treat your whiplash.

This is a guest blog entry.

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