We Know: All About Whiplash

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is the hyperextension of the neck. This injury is the result of sudden movement of the head and the snapping motion it makes when all movement is ceased.

What causes whiplash?

Whiplash injuries are of the result of traffic accidents. The sudden jolt of being rear-ended by another car forces your head forward. Once you slam on the brakes, your head is flung backwards in a whipping motion. In any situation where your head is "whipped" in a direction, whiplash can occur.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

Whiplash can manifest itself in several ways. The following are the most common symptoms.

  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Pain in the neck, lower back, shoulder blades or arms
  • Headaches
  • Numbness of the hands
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

How is whiplash diagnosed?

A doctor needs to assess your specific situation. Even though you may have been in a car accident and you may be reasonably sure the pain in your neck is whiplash, the doctor will take x-rays. This is to ensure that you only have damage to the soft tissue of the neck and not a more serious injury or spinal problem.

How is whiplash treated?

If you think you have whiplash, you should see a doctor. Medical professionals typically prescribe bed rest, pain relievers, hot/cold therapy or a combination of these. Pain caused by whiplash can be relieved at home with icepacks or Ibuprofen. Generally, neck rest and exercises designed to gain motion back will help return the neck to normal.

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