Whiplash - Health Center


By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST


Whiplash – Basic Overview

Whiplash is a kind of neck injury which generally occurs during the rear end automobile collisions. This injury occurs when the head of the affected person moves backward and forward suddenly- just in the same way as the whip cracks. These extreme movements cause the neck muscles to push the ligaments beyond the range of the normal motion.

Injuries related to Whiplash may be mild or severe. The treatment options for Whiplash can range from over the counter pain relievers and the application of ice over the painful muscles. Physical therapy may be needed in case the pain persists even after taking the medications. People tend to recover from Whiplash within a few weeks. However, in some cases, chronic pain could be one of the aftermaths of a whiplash injury. 

Causes of Whiplash:

Whiplash tends to occur when the head of the affected person moves backward and then forward suddenly. This causes the muscles in the neck to strain. Some of the major causes of Whiplash are as follows:

  1. Auto Accidents: Rear end accidents and collisions are one of the major reasons of Whiplash.
  2. Physical Abuse: When a person is punched or shaken, it results into Whiplash. Whiplash is also caused due to the injuries which are sustained during the shaken baby syndrome.
  3. Contact Sports: Sports related activities such as Football tackles and other collisions can also cause Whiplash Injuries. 

Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash:

The signs and symptoms of Whiplash tend to appear within a period of 24 hours from the initial injury. The following are the major symptoms:

  •       Pain and stiffness in the neck
  •       Headaches at the base of the skull
  •       Dizziness and blurring of the vision
  •       Fatigue
  •       Difficulty during concentration
  •       Problems with memory
  •       Ringing sensation in the ears
  •       Irritability and disturbances in the sleeping pattern

It is recommended to see a doctor if you are experiencing pain in the shoulders and the arms. If it becomes painful to move your head, it is recommended to visit a doctor immediately. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Whiplash:

The following imaging tests are best used in order to check out the causes of Whiplash:

  1. X Rays: X Rays of the neck is one of the best ways to rule out the problems related to spinal cord fractures, dislocation of the joints or arthritis.
  2. CT Scans: Computerized Tomography scans use the best of the x ray tests in order to combine the images from different directions in order to give a detailed image of the bone and the surrounding soft tissues.
  3. MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests use the radio waves and the magnetic field in order to detect the injuries related to the soft tissue injuries, such as that to the spinal cord or the nerve roots.

Treatment and Drugs for Whiplash:

Over the counter pain medications and self care home treatments are best suited in order to treat Whiplash. The following treatment measures are the best suited:

  1. Prescription Painkillers: People suffering from intense pain can be benefitted from short term treatment with the help of pain relievers.
  2. Injections: Often an injection of Lidocaine – a medicine used to numb the pain is injected into the painful muscle areas can be used in order to relieve the muscle spasms.
  3. Muscle Relaxants: These medications are used in order to ease the muscle spasms. They tend to cause drowsiness; therefore, they are often prescribed at the end of the day.
  4. Physical Therapy: Physical Therapy uses the best of Ice, Heat, Manual Therapies and ultrasound in order to treat and strengthen the neck muscles and helps to protect the neck in the future.
  5. Foam Collars: The foam collars are commonly used for the Whiplash Injuries. These treatment options cause the neck to be immobilized for a long duration of time. These lead to the decrease in the muscle bulk and strength. These collars are not worn for more than three hours at a time at a stretch.
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