Whiplash injury is also known as neck sprain and its symptoms are often seen after a road accident. Read on to know what are the various symptoms of this injury and how to deal with them…
In medical terms, a whiplash injury implies an injury sustained in the neck due to a sudden movement of the head in any direction. This sudden and unexpected movement of the head leads to the damage of ligaments and tendons that are present in the neck, which is what leads to neck pain. Due to this injury, there can also be sprain in the region of the neck, due to strain on the ligaments, which could take months to heal. This is one of the most common injuries seen in road accidents, where due to the higher impact, the neck suddenly moves forward. Also, this injury is more commonly seen is women than in men. Given below are the various symptoms, which can help in identifying this condition.
Whenever there is a whiplash injury, there is often hyperextension and/or hyperflexion of the neck muscles, which leads to a strained neck. In most cases, the symptoms will take a few hours to develop, and often be palpable a day after the injury. The most common ones include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck. The pain is even felt when there is no movement and it is aggravated during movement, due to which, many patients tend to limit their neck movement along with increased stiffness in the neck.
- Swelling in the region of the neck is another common symptom. This is mostly reactionary in nature to the injury.
- Another common combination which may be seen in this injury is neck pain and headache.
- There may be certain radiating effects of this injury. The person may even experience lower back pain due to this injury, along with pain or paresthesia in the arms and hands.
- Muscle spasms and neck spasms are rare, but may be seen in some cases.
- Dizziness, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision (especially in cases where the neck injury is accompanied by a head injury), vertigo, jaw pain, etc. Sometimes, ringing in the ears, i.e., tinnitus may also be seen.
The treatment for whiplash injury is not standard and varies from patient to patient, depending on various factors such as severity of the symptoms, extent of pain and damage, etc. The first and foremost step in the treatment and recovery from the injury, is patient education. The patient has to be explained about the injury and its precautionary measures, so as to treat and speed up its recovery. More often than not, the first line of treatment will involve the patient being given a soft cervical collar, which is to be worn to reduce the range of movements of the neck. There are two motives behind this – firstly, to speed up recovery and secondly, to prevent any additional stress or strain on the neck muscles, which may further aggravate the pain and stiffness in the neck. Eventually, certain restricted range of motion exercises can be advised, so as to make normal movement of the neck possible. However, immobilization of the neck suggested by the doctor, for the recommended period should be followed stringently. Physical therapy can also be used to bring the patient back to routine life.
This was all about the various symptoms of whiplash injury and a brief note on how they can be treated. The symptoms may be prolonged and could take quite some time to heal completely, but if you religiously follow all the instructions laid down by your doctor and your chiropractor, then you’re surely on the road to recovery.