Whiplash is an injury caused by a high-impact event, such as a motor vehicle accident, sports injury, or assault. You have seven small vertebrae in your neck to support the 10 to 11 pounds of the skull. When your head is whipped back and forth, as is the case in a motor vehicle accident, it can damage the fragile supportive tissues.
The effects of whiplash can fade with proper treatment. When left untreated, however, an acute injury can sometimes become chronic. To help prevent chronic neck issues after a whiplash injury, it is recommended that you see an experienced auto accident doctor as soon as possible,
How Whiplash Got Its Name
To the medical community, whiplash is known as a cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome. When struck behind in a vehicle, your head may thrust forward and back violently. The higher the speed, the stronger the force behind the motion.
Whiplash gets its name because of the whip-like movement of the skull and neck. The supporting ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other tissues may become torn and damaged because of the car’s inertia.
How Patients Identify Whiplash
Immediately following an accident, you may not feel any pain. Your body protects you by causing an adrenaline spike, but you may begin to notice symptoms of injury in the hours or days following an accident.
The pain may begin as a headache at the base of your skull. The neck pain could range from pins-and-needles to debilitating pain. You may find it difficult to turn your head, and your range of motion will become limited. Tingling and weakness in the shoulder and arm may also be present.
Your symptoms can vary in severity and the length of time it takes for them to show up.
Be on the lookout for symptoms that include:
- Neck pain
- Muscle tenderness
- Tingling and numbness of arms
Whiplash symptoms are hard to diagnose because they are complex, varied, and can last for a long time. It isn’t rare for you to have other injuries alongside it, such as concussions, pinched nerves, and shoulder injuries with whiplash.
Severe cases of whiplash may manifest with neurological and cognitive symptoms. Lots of people confuse symptoms of depression and irritability with other conditions. Severe pain, balance and coordination issues, and mental health issues can indicate whiplash.
How Early Treatment Benefits Patients
Procrastinating on whiplash treatment can result in chronic pain and disability. When injured, our bodies try to compensate to get some relief. You may catch yourself changing postures and subsequently distorting your body, and pulling other muscles. Whiplash damages the tissues in your neck, and if you don’t want permanent damage, you have to strengthen the tissue to sustain your range of motion.
If you wait, you are bound to have complications. Complications from whiplash are more challenging to treat than the initial problem. Issues from your initial injury can also be more challenging to diagnose. Early treatment can also help physicians diagnose any other issues. For example, you could be x-rayed for whiplash but find out that you have fractured vertebrae.
How Physicians Treat Whiplash
Treatment for whiplash varies on the severity of the condition. For mild whiplash, doctors may have you treat it with ice and anti-inflammatory medication. However, you may require corrective exercises, spinal adjustments, and heat or ice therapies with more severe cases.
The point of whiplash treatment is to increase your range of motion and to provide pain relief. After diagnosis, your doctor can develop a treatment plan that may include combination activities and pain management.
Your ability to heal quickly will depend on a few different factors. While many patients recover in three months, others can suffer from symptoms for years. Those who have whiplash following an accident may also heal slower.
Medical Clinics of NYC
Without early and proper treatment, the effects of an untreated whiplash injury can last for years. The physical consequences can feel debilitating. Not only would you experience physical pain, but if you plan to claim your injuries, the Workman’s company compensation insurer will fight even harder if you wait too long. If you have any whiplash symptoms or were recently involved in a car accident, visit us at the Medical Clinics of NYC. We can help you get back on track.