Now medically referred to as Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome, whiplash is a general term which describes the head suddenly whipping backward in extension and then forward in flexion, most commonly from car accidents.
Other synonyms for whiplash include cervical sprain/strain. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness, loss of normal range of motion, muscle spasm, headaches, hoarseness or difficulty swallowing, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands, and upper back pain.
The most common parts of the body affected by whiplash include the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs, and potentially the spinal nerves or spinal cord depending on the severity of the accident.
Patients who don’t follow up with a doctor regularly after this type of injury often worsen their conditions, because of hidden injuries. This is especially harmful for those injured who only report minor or fairly insignificant pain.
Why is this, how can that happen in low impact or low severity collisions?
This phenomenon known as hidden injuries or latent injuries occurs due to improper healing of the muscles, ligaments and joints and how they function.
If your muscles, joints and ligaments essentially heal “crooked,” they will stay that way until they are restored to their original state (i.e., as they were before the accident). With neck and collision injuries, it’s important to receive proper treatment to avoid any complications down the line.
More severely, whiplash injuries can also damage the disc between the bones. Learn about the potential risks and symptoms associated with disc herniations.
If you’re in a car accident that results in whiplash/injury:
- Contact your insurance agent for your first steps. Depending on your injury and accident, car insurance and health insurance will both often cover a visit with a professional.
- Avoid rigorous exercise. Until you can be medically cleared by a doctor, try to take it easy as much as possible, so no injury can get worse.
- Explain all of your symptoms. When you finally see a doctor, make sure to report even minor pain, as it could otherwise linger for months or even years after an accident.
- Don’t skip treatment! The sudden impact of car collision injuries can leave your neck, back, and posture in disarray for a lifetime if you don’t nip it in the bud immediately.
- Keep limber. Do stretches, light yoga, and relaxation techniques to ease your tense muscles. Texas Spine Clinic provides detailed stretches for our patients who have whiplash to make sure you’re back on your feet in no time.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and have any symptoms of whiplash, call Texas Spine Clinic today!