Most people have heard of whiplash, a medical complaint caused when one’s neck is rapidly flexed and then overextended. While the majority of whiplash sufferers will find that their pain resolves with conservative treatment within three months, in some cases without treatment the symptoms of a whiplash injury may become a chronic problem.
The good news is that the symptoms of whiplash are not something that must be put up with for the rest of one’s life as there are a number of treatment options that can both relieve the immediate pain and prevent complications long-term.
Causes of Whiplash
Of course, most people associate whiplash with automobile accidents. This most often occurs when someone’s car is rear-ended. In this case, the driver’s head is forced quickly forwards and then snaps backwards, straining the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back. Occasionally, the discs between the vertebra may be affected as well, leading to disc herniations.
However, whiplash is not limited to just motor vehicle accidents. Sports injuries, horseback riding injuries and physical abuse can all violently move the neck back and forth and cause whiplash-type effects in the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The primary symptom of whiplash is pain in the neck. This pain may radiate down the back, up the skull or through the shoulders and down the arms. In addition, the individual may have tingling similar to the feeling of pins and needles in his hands or arms. Tension headaches and/or migraine headaches are also common. Other symptoms can include stiffness, tiredness, visual problems and lightheadedness. Anyone sustaining these symptoms after a physical injury should seek care from their medical doctor or chiropractor.
Treatment Options for Whiplash
Treatment options for whiplash can vary widely depending on the severity of the injury as well as on the type of expert that is consulted. Medical doctors typically recommend primary measures of over-the-counter pain medication and ice to the affected area. If the pain and stiffness persists, they may prescribe stronger pain medications in combination with physical therapy.
Doctors of chiropractic are an excellent choice for minimizing pain and allowing the neck greater freedom of movement after a painful injury. Chiropractors specialize in treating neck injuries by manipulating the joints and muscles to realign vertebra to their normal positions, decreasing impingement on spinal nerves and intervertebral discs, thereby alleviating much of the pain associated with whiplash. In most cases, this takes place over a series of appointments.
Whiplash is a serious injury that should be addressed as soon as possible after an accident. Accident victims should remember that although they may not experience immediate pain, the symptoms of whiplash injuries often appear gradually. A chiropractor can realign the spine and decrease pain and stiffness in the neck. The road to recovery is not as long as one would imagine.
About the Guest Author
Corbin Carrell works with Denver Integrated Spine Center and is a freelance writer who enjoys covering topics such as health and wellness.