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Six Things You Should Know About Whiplash

January 20, 2022 Car Accidents

Whiplash is a very common neck injury caused in car accidents due to the impact of forcefully moving the neck back and forth. Although many victims suffer from this type of injury, it should not be overlooked. Here are things to know about whiplash.

1. Whiplash Symptoms Can Take Up to 24 Hours to Notice

You may notice a strain in your neck immediately after a collision, but neck pain can take several hours or even days to develop. The reason for this is due to the state of the nerves and muscles in your neck. They can essentially go into shock, so the pain may not be apparent, but that doesn’t mean an injury isn’t there.

2. Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury

Stay aware of the following possible symptoms of whiplash:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Limited mobility
  • Dizziness
  • Inflammation in the neck, back, or shoulders
  • Tingling/numbness in the arms

More severe symptoms are:

  • Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances

Seek medical attention right away if you start to experience any of the symptoms above after an accident. It is crucial to get a proper diagnosis right away and rule out other severe injuries.

3. Rest Can Make Whiplash Symptoms Worse

You may feel like or want to move or exercise your neck for fear of making your injury worse but resting for more than a few days can cause your muscles to weaken and become stiff. A lack of physical activity can even prolong your pain, so it is best to discuss a treatment plan with your doctor and follow it.

Did You Know: Even a Low-Speed Accident Can Cause Whiplash

4. Even a Low-Speed Accident Can Cause Whiplash

Low-speed collisions can generate enough force to cause a whiplash injury, especially a rear-end collision. Although there may be little to no damage to the vehicle, a crash can still impact the body. Factors besides speed, such as the vehicles’ size and weight, location of impact, seat back height and angle, head restraint location, and road conditions, can all influence whether a whiplash injury will occur.

5. X-Rays Can Diagnose Whiplash

X-rays are typically used to rule out a fracture, but they can also show whether ligaments are stretched or torn to support the presence of a soft tissue injury (whiplash). Computerized tomography (CTs) are also commonly used to check for bone damage, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to get detailed 3D images of the neck, back, and upper shoulders.

6. Treatment Options for Whiplash

In the first two to three weeks after a whiplash injury, most victims need to wear a soft cervical collar to immobilize the neck. Other treatment options include:

  • Pain, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant medications
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the neck muscles, decrease muscle spasms, and increase circulation.
  • Cervical traction (done at home) and/or trigger point injections if symptoms continue for more than 2-4 weeks.
  • Surgical treatment is rarely needed. However, if symptoms continue or worsen after 6 to 8 weeks and there is evidence of cervical disc damage, surgical repair of the discs (discectomy) may be necessary.