Whiplash is a neck injury resulting from forceful, rapid movement of the neck. As the name implies, it occurs when the neck is moved forward and backward with immense pressure, like the cracking of a whip.

Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. But whiplash can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse, and other types of traumas, such as a fall. Whiplash may be called a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries.

Causes of Whiplash

Most whiplash injuries are caused from sudden force or movement such as sudden acceleration or deceleration that strains your neck and spine, damaging bone, muscle, ligaments and nerves. You’ll see whiplash most commonly caused by motor vehicle accidents, but it can also be caused by certain sports activities.

Signs and Symptoms: How to Know if You Have Whiplash

The signs and symptoms of whiplash can vary based on the severity of the force and compression. Symptoms can appear immediately, but can sometimes take up to 12 hours after the event to show.

A few of the most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

The severity of symptoms can vary, but it’s always a good idea to see your doctor if you have neck pain or any other whiplash symptoms following a car accident or other traumatic event to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosing Whiplash

When it comes to diagnosing whiplash, various tests may be conducted in addition to a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Healthcare professionals make the diagnoses after ruling out more serious conditions or other possible causes.

These are some of the tests a provider can conduct to rule out other causes:

  1. X-ray: This imaging technique uses electromagnetic energy beams to capture detailed images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): By utilizing large magnets and computer technology, MRIs provide highly detailed images of organs and soft tissue structures within the body.
  3. Computed Tomography (CT) scan: CT scans utilize X-rays and advanced computer technology to generate horizontal (or axial) images, often referred to as slices, of the body. This imaging method provides detailed visuals of various body parts, including bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are known for their superior detail compared to general X-rays.

By utilizing these diagnostic tests, healthcare professionals can accurately assess the extent of whiplash injuries and identify any underlying soft tissue damage that may not be apparent through traditional X-ray examinations.

How to Deal with the Aftermath of Whiplash

Treatment for whiplash can depend upon the severity of the injury, but here are some of the options:

  • Medications
  • Cold application for the first seven to ten days. Heat application is recommended after that.
  • Exercise/physical therapy
  • Neck brace
  • Spine surgery
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care

Can a Chiropractor Help with Whiplash Recovery?

Chiropractors play a crucial role in helping individuals recover from injuries like whiplash by utilizing specific, gentle adjustments for reducing inflammation and providing pain relief.

Whiplash, in particular, greatly benefits from chiropractic care, as it targets the affected muscles and ligaments, alleviating inflammation and restoring neck and shoulder mobility.

When you visit a chiropractor for whiplash treatment, they will conduct a comprehensive examination of your spine to ensure that there are no underlying issues or additional damage in other parts of your body. In some cases, this examination may involve imaging tests such as x-rays or an MRI to provide a more accurate assessment.

By combining chiropractic adjustments and a tailored rehabilitation exercise program, chiropractors offer a holistic approach to speeding up recovery and enhancing overall well-being.

If you’re suffering from the effects of whiplash and are seeking treatment options, schedule a consultation today!