Whiplash is a common condition that many people experience after car accidents as well as slips and falls. This mysterious condition can decrease the quality of life for months or years to come if it goes untreated. Knowing the symptoms of whiplash, the causes of whiplash, and why it's so important to treat whiplash right away can help you decide whether or not you need whiplash treatment.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a condition that occurs when the head moves forward and backward suddenly, with force. Whiplash gets its name from the motion of a whip when it is cracked because this is similar to the movement the head makes when this injury occurs. This is a common problem for people involved in rear-end collisions because the inertia of the cars can cause passenger necks to jerk suddenly and unexpectedly.
When this happens, the muscles and ligaments in the neck develop small tears and inflammation. The bones and discs in the spine may also become damaged in some way. This is the whiplash injury.
How can you tell if you have whiplash?
Unfortunately, sometimes it is very hard to tell if you have whiplash. In the days after an accident occurs, many people fail to notice any problems at all. The first symptoms often take weeks to present themselves. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.
- Dizziness and blurry vision.
- Range of motion loss in the neck.
- Numbness and tingling in the arms.
- Problems sleeping.
Many people who have whiplash often experience headaches starting at the base of the skull. This aching comes from the neck and radiates upward into the skull. Some people with whiplash will also experience memory problems, depression, and problems with focus or concentration. These symptoms can seem largely unrelated, and many people can go for a long time with no knowledge that they've been injured. During this time, the problem can get worse.
What happens if you put off whiplash treatment?
There are many reasons why you should never put off whiplash treatment. To begin with, you can have whiplash and be unaware. Delaying treatment can lead to complications which could cause chronic pain and even disability. Over time, you may start to assume compensatory postures to relieve your pain and discomfort. This distorts the body, causing muscles to be pulled and more injuries to occur.
The complications from whiplash are often difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. It's much easier to treat the original problem, rather than treating the complications after the fact.
Some people think that whiplash is not a serious injury and does not need to be treated by a medical professional. They delay treatment thinking it will get better on its own. Many people who do not seek help right away will experience more pain and problems as time goes on.
Therefore, it's important to see a professional if you've been in a car accident regardless of whether or not you've noticed any symptoms of an injury. Your medical professional can diagnose your condition, if one exists, and can help you avoid complications for years to come.
How can you treat whiplash?
Whiplash is treated with a variety of methods including spinal adjustment or corrective exercises and with at-home therapies like heat and ice pack application. These therapies are intended to improve range of motion, relieve discomfort, and help the body heal. Your medical professional will decide which combination of therapies is right for you when you come in for diagnosis.
If you've recently been in a car accident and believe you may have been injured and are not sure, or if you have been injured and have not yet sought treatment, contact One Accord Physical Therapy for an appointment. We're your resource for help with spinal and muscle-related injuries.