Dealing With Whiplash: What You Need To Know
If you feel a tightening in your neck and shoulders after a car accident, you may be experiencing whiplash. This painful condition occurs when a person’s head and neck are suddenly forced backward and then forward with great force. This causes the soft tissues of the neck to extend beyond their typical range of motion, putting the cervical spine through extreme stress. Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment of whiplash.
Whiplash most commonly occurs during rear-end automobile collisions, but it can also result from sports injuries, amusement park rides or physical abuse. These various types of trauma can cause an intense flexing and extension of the neck — a movement similar to nodding your head to say yes.
The pain of whiplash might not appear right away after an accident but could take hours or weeks to develop. Common symptoms of this condition include neck pain, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, ringing in the ears, limited range of neck movement and more. Whiplash typically goes away within a few days, and most people recover fully within three months. Depending on the severity of the injury, symptoms may last longer. It’s important to remember that everyone heals at a different rate.
Your health care provider will determine specific treatment for whiplash based on several factors, including the extent of the injury as well as your age, overall health and medical history. Treatment may include prescription medication — such as anti-inflammatories — ice packs or physical therapy. For some individuals, alternative medicine, including acupuncture or massage therapy, may help alleviate neck and shoulder stiffness and restore full range of motion.
To help prevent whiplash when you drive, always wear a seat belt and adjust your headrest to the proper height. For a more in-depth look at the causes, symptoms and treatment of whiplash, see the accompanying infographic.
Infographic created by Capital Auto Auction, a virginia auto auction company
Author bio: Reid Zaritsky is Senior Vice President of Capital Auto Auction, a family-run business since 1988 that focuses on finding the right vehicles for families of all sizes. Zaritsky has been with the company since 2009, and has a background in science and engineering.