Whiplash refers to a neck injury caused due a sudden and jerky forward, backward or sideways movement of the head. The excessive force leads to stretching or tearing of the ligaments and tendons in the neck. Although the condition is not usually severe, it can cause long-lasting pain and discomfort to the patient. If the symptoms last for more than six months, it is referred to as Chronic Whiplash or Late Whiplash Syndrome.
- Rear-end road accidents
- Physical assault, such as being punched
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
- Horse riding
- Sports-related injuries
- Direct blow to the head
- Pain in the neck
- Stiffness and decreased range of motion
- Muscle tension
- Inability to move the neck
- Headache that may radiate from the base of the skull to the forehead
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the arms
- Vision problems
- Constant tiredness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Ringing in the ears
- The orthopedic doctor may conduct a physical examination to diagnose Whiplash.
- The patient may be asked to move his neck, head and arms so as to determine range of motion as well as stiffness.
- Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan or MRI may be conducted to rule out other medical conditions that may cause neck pain, such as a fracture or muscle strain.
- Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to relieve pain.
- Muscle Relaxants: These may help to eliminate pain, reduce muscle spasms and help restore normal sleep.
- Rest: The orthopedic doctor may advise the patient to take rest and keep the neck immobile for the first few hours following the injury.
- Neck Brace: Wearing a collar or neck brace may help to provide support to the neck. However, these should only be worn as prescribed by the doctor. Long term use of brace may weaken the muscles of the neck and delay recovery.
- Ice Or Heat: Applying ice or heat packs to the affected area may help to reduce swelling and pain.
- Physical Therapy: The orthopedic doctor may prescribe certain stretching exercises to restore the range of motion in the neck. Maintaining a good posture and learning relaxation techniques may help to strengthen muscles as well as prevent future injuries.
For comprehensive treatment of Whiplash and other back problems, visit OrthoTexas.