Updated: Jul 28
Have you been in a car accident or physical trauma and now your neck hurts? Do you have whiplash? Let's find out! Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when your head snaps back and forth or side to side. In most cases, whiplash occurs when the head of an individual is hit from behind during a rear-end collision or some other type of accidents such as a fall in a sporting event.
What Is It?
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury. It's caused by a sudden, violent movement of your head and neck that causes stretching and damage to the ligaments, and other soft tissues in the cervical spine. You may experience pain in your neck or upper back after a whiplash injury, which can last for weeks, months or years.
What Causes Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when the head is jerked back, forward or sideways. It can result from a sudden stop, crash or collision.
The neck has to absorb large loads during whiplash events. This happens because the neck muscles are unable to stop the movement quickly enough before they become stretched beyond their limit and begin to tear apart.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
There are many physical symptoms of whiplash. The most common ones include:
Neck pain, stiffness and discomfort
Headaches (often worse as the day goes on)
Dizziness and nausea, especially when turning your head quickly. You may also be sensitive to light or sound.
Tenderness in the neck muscles
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area can also occur due to injury to these glands during an accident involving a sudden jolt or change in direction (as with a car crash). If this happens, consult your doctor right away.
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Whiplash is diagnosed on the basis of a physical examination, medical history and imaging studies.
When you come in for treatment, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and ask about the accident. He or she may also ask about any other injuries you have suffered in the past. The doctor will perform a physical examination to check for areas of pain or tenderness; loss of motion; muscle spasm; stiffness; muscle weakness; numbness or tingling sensations; swelling; bruising or discoloration around your neck, shoulders, arms or legs.
The doctor may also take x-rays to check for spinal fractures that may be causing your pain (although these are rare). An MRI scan may be ordered if more serious soft tissue damage (like a disc herniation) is suspected.
How Can I Prevent Whiplash ?
Use a seatbelt.
Use a car seat for children under 8 years old.
Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Avoid distractions (e.g., using cellphones).
Avoid driving while angry or upset
How Is Whiplash Treated?
Whiplash is best treated by a chiropractor or physical therapist. Chiropractic treatments, including spinal manipulation, soft tissue rehabilitation, therapeutic exercise, and manual therapy, are effective in reducing pain and improving controlled and pain free range of motion. Massage therapy can be especially helpful for relieving tension in the neck and shoulders. Acupuncture may also help with some types of whiplash injuries.
It's important to get treatment as soon as possible after experiencing whiplash so that you don't suffer from long-lasting symptoms or complications later on. If you have questions about how to treat your particular injury, please consult your doctor or a qualified health care provider.
Whiplash is a common injury caused by a sudden jolt or impact to the head and neck. It causes pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders and back. If you have experienced these symptoms and would like to be evaluated or would like some relief from pain we are here to help.
Drew Marcello D.C.
3322 9th St N
St Petersburg FL 33704