Many people have heard of “whiplash,” especially in conversations about car accidents. Some may think it is a term defining a single condition, but what the word “whiplash” is actually used to describe a symptom cluster that can develop. Here is everything you need to know about whiplash, the symptoms, and more.
What is Whiplash?
Also known as a neck sprain or strain, whiplash is a common injury that happens when the neck is sharply jerked back and forth suddenly. The soft tissues of the neck are susceptible to injury, especially when jolted. Depending on how badly the neck is strained or sprained, the symptoms may be mild or severe.
Do not confuse whiplash with a concussion. While both are both caused by sudden jerks or jolts, the injuries differ. Whiplash is damage to the soft tissues around the neck; concussions are a brain injury.
What Causes Whiplash?
The main cause of whiplash is motor vehicle accidents, such as getting rear-ended. However, any time the head and neck are moved suddenly forward and backward, you can get whiplash. Yes, even headbanging a bit too vigorously may cause whiplash. Other common causes include falling or getting tackled in sports.
Interestingly, even a low speed impact of about 10 mph may cause whiplash. That is because the head often receives about 250 percent more force than the rest of the body.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash have a wide range, and they may begin immediately or after a few days. Sometimes, healthcare providers call the array of symptoms connected to whiplash as whiplash-associated disorders (WAD).
Common symptoms include:
- Memory issues
- Muscle spasms
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, back
- Stiff neck that cannot be turned
- Difficulty hearing and ringing in the ears
- Mood changes
Left untreated, whiplash can affect the spine. Conditions like arthritis and spinal disc problems may set in. Also, whiplash-related problems will not heal by themselves. These conditions can be easily prevented if you take care of your body and allow it to heal. This may also mean visiting the chiropractor.
Can Whiplash Result in Tingling Fingers or Other Sensations?
Initially, whiplash is attributed with stiffness and pain. Victims of auto accidents, though, may feel that there is a tingling in the fingers and arms or a ringing in the ears. These sensations are often the result of soft tissue injuries around the neck. The tissues swell and put pressure on the nerves, so you may feel tingling in the extremities.
What Does Whiplash Recovery Look Like?
Mild whiplash will remain painful for a few days after the accident. After a few more days, the pain will begin to subside. With enough rest, the whiplash symptoms will dissipate over a few weeks.
More severe cases may cause pain and stiffness for up to three months or a year. Longer lasting whiplash is often the result of re-injury, where the person did not rest enough. It is important that you rest your neck as much as possible for the first 24-48 hours of the injury.
Can Chiropractic Care Help with Whiplash?
If you are suffering from a more severe case of whiplash, you may opt to visit a chiropractor. During the first visit, the chiropractor will go over your health history. You can discuss how the whiplash occurred. From there, the chiropractor will do an examination of the neck, spine, and other areas where you may be experiencing symptoms.
Elements of the examination include:
- Motion in the spine and neck
- Condition of the tendons, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and joints in the affected areas
- Your posture and biomechanics
- The damage throughout the spinal cord, spine, and nerves
The chiropractor will decide what kind of tests are necessary, such as a postural analysis, nerve testing, thermal scans, and surface EMG. The tests will provide insight to how extensive the damage to the neck and spine may be. After the tests, the chiropractor will also use techniques that can help them find abnormal spinal movements, known as subluxation.
You may need to visit the chiropractor a couple of times for adjustments during the recovery period. Eventually, the whiplash symptoms will begin to weaken, and you will regain any lost range of motion. Remember that rest is also necessary, so do not go out and do a bunch of activities right after your chiropractic session.
As the pain lessens, the chiropractor may recommend that you do safe exercises. Avoid any exercise that may have caused the neck injury or anything that could worsen it, such as contact sports. You may participate in low impact exercises, like dancing, yoga, walking, and so on.
Are You Ready to Visit the Chiropractor?
When the neck and spine are injured, various symptoms may spring up. The spine is also connected to every part of the body, so its health affects every single cell and tissue and organ. Whiplash may not be severe, but if it is not treated properly, you could end up dealing with prolonged symptoms. You do not want to wait until quality of life is diminished. Your health is in your hands. Make sure you are making the right decisions. If you feel pain, it is best to visit a chiropractor. Such holistic therapies can help the body bounce back faster than ever.
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