Everyone experiences light aches and pain in their body from time to time. However, if this discomfort worsens or becomes chronic, there is most likely an underlying issue that needs to be addressed immediately. While surprising to learn, an estimated 120,000 people in America suffer from whiplash, and some of these individuals do not even realize they have this condition. Even though it is a common medical condition, most people are not truly familiar with whiplash. With this guide and your doctor's help, you will learn a few key facts about whiplash.
Not Caused By Automobile Accidents Only
One of the most shocking facts you may learn is that whiplash is not only caused by automobile accidents. Although accidents are the main source of whiplash injuries, other high-impact activities that can injure you can result in whiplash.
Bungee jumping, riding a roller coaster, and even participating in a high-impact sport such as football or hockey can all cause whiplash.
Basically, if your head and neck are forced back and forth suddenly and violently, whether during a car accident or while playing sports, the motion will place an excessive amount of stress on the neck, head, and spine, leading to whiplash.
Symptoms Vary From Person to Person
Each person is different, so you may experience symptoms that another person with whiplash does not experience. Unfortunately, whiplash does cause pain in all cases.
Whiplash pain will occur in the neck and upper back in most people. It may start suddenly or develop after a few days or even weeks. In rare cases, a patient may not begin feeling pain until a few months after their accident or injury.
Other symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Muscle spasms in the neck or upper back
- Tightness in the muscles of the neck and back
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing, which could indicate whiplash has injured the esophagus
- Shoulder pain
- Burning, tingling sensations in the neck, shoulder, and upper back
- Numbness in the neck, shoulders, back, and arms
Again, since the symptoms of whiplash may not be noticeable immediately after an accident or injury, you may not believe you need medical care. Because the condition will worsen over time without treatment, immediate medical care is essential whether you are feeling symptoms or not.
Treatments are Available
Doctors will order a series of x-rays to determine if any bones have been fractured or broken after your accident or injury. CT scans and MRIs may also be necessary to determine if any damage to the tissue and ligaments has occurred. A physical exam can also be used to diagnose whiplash.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will recommend that you wear a soft brace around the neck. This brace will prevent you from moving your neck during the recovery, reducing the risk of further damage and pain.
Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed as well. These medications reduce inflammation, controlling your pain throughout your recovery.
Fortunately, surgery is not usually necessary to treat whiplash. If your doctor has found broken bones, torn ligaments, or injury to your spinal cord, more involved treatment will be necessary.
To recover from whiplash, your doctor may recommend a chiropractic consultation with someone like Dr. Shirali Kianian. A spinal manipulation involves realigning the spinal cord with the neck and head by the chiropractor's firm hands.
Manipulating the spine may be invasive and uncomfortable, but you will not experience any pain during the spinal realignment. Many patients do feel pressure, which quickly subsides.
Whiplash is not a life-threatening condition, but it can threaten your quality of life. With a proper understanding of the signs, causes, and treatment options, you will be able to have your condition diagnosed and treated in an efficient and effective manner.