Understanding Whiplash – Its Causes, Prevention, Diagnosis And Treatment

Understanding Whiplash. You thought it was a good day for a drive.  So, you went out and took a leisurely drive.  When suddenly – Wham!  You were thrown forward with a forceful jerk.  Fortunately, you weren’t hurt too badly.  You got out of the car and approached the driver who rear ended your car. 

You exchange insurance details and you went home.  After a couple of days, you started to feel achy.  Suddenly, you’re experiencing frequent headaches.  Your neck is stiff and your back is aching constantly.  This is classic of the symptoms of whiplash.  But what is whiplash?

How Does Whiplash Occur?

Whiplash occurs after the body is thrown forward or backward by an unexpected strong force.  This is fairly common after car accidents.  However, it could occur after the body is subjected to laborious physical activities.  Swimming, lifting, diving – all these could cause whiplash.

Often, people who are experiencing whiplash would complain of recurring headaches especially at the back of the head and muscle stiffness especially around the neck.  Often, these symptoms only appear a few days after the activity or the incident.  The symptoms could last for a few days or it could for weeks on end.

When to Seek Medical Attention

The symptoms of whiplash, by themselves, are not dangerous.  Whiplash is not a cause for alarm.  However, if you begin to experience other symptoms like memory loss or if you’ve experienced loss of consciousness after the accident, you should immediately seek medical attention. 

Headaches as symptoms of whiplash are fairly common.  However, you should immediately see you doctor or go to the emergency room if the headache is severe and is mostly located at the back of the head or if you experience a sensation of arm heaviness or prickling sensations on your shoulders.

Preventing the Occurrence of Whiplash

Immediately after an accident or some physical activities like long gym workouts, you should adopt measures in order to prevent the occurrence of whiplash.  For instance, if the activity involves severe straining on your arms and neck, you should immediately apply an ice pack on your neck for the next 24 hours after you get home. 

This is to prevent muscle straining and inflammation.  Apply the ice pack between 20-minute intervals.  If the pain is bothering you, perhaps a pain killer will do the trick.  You should also look into some exercise that will help you relieve the straining and muscle stiffness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If the symptoms you are experiencing are too severe, you should immediately seek medical attention.  Your physician would probably subject you to an MRI, CT scan or X-ray to check your physical condition and to rule off other possible causes of whiplash-like symptoms.  Fractures or cervical spine dislocation are just a couple of the major concerns that should be ruled out before treatment for whiplash be pursued.

After a diagnosis of whiplash, patients would have to undergo treatment which could last for weeks or months depending on his response.  You can probably liken this to physical therapy.  A soft collar is a great help to patients who are recovering from whiplash.  Patients who wear soft collar tend to recover more rapidly than those who do not wear the contraption.  Often, whiplash treatment involves neck and back exercises.