Whiplash is basically neck pain that occurs after an individual endured injury to the soft tissues in the neck. This is triggered by an unusual motion or force applied on the neck where it is moved beyond its normal range of motion. Take note that this is typically caused by the flexion-extension movement of the neck that pulls and strains on the neck ligaments and muscles. Whiplash usually occurs during vehicular accidents, falls, sports and even assault.
Possible causes of whiplash
The usual cause of whiplash is a vehicular accident. The speed of vehicles involved in an accident or the degree of damage to the vehicle might not be related to the intensity of the neck injury. Speed as low as 15 mph can generate enough energy to trigger whiplash even if seatbelts were used.
Sports injuries and a direct blow to the head from a falling object or being assaulted can cause whiplash. Minor slips and falls or bicycle accidents can also whiplash. In addition, constant stress injuries or chronic neck strain can also cause injury. Violent shaking of the child can also cause this injury especially to the brain or spinal cord.
What are the signs and symptoms of whiplash?
The symptoms of whiplash usually include a certain degree of neck muscle stiffness and pain. Depending on the harshness of the injury, the usual signs and symptoms of whiplash include tenderness throughout the back of the neck and shoulders, swelling of the neck, difficulty in moving the neck, muscle spasms, headache and tightness of the jaw.
As for severe cases of whiplash, it can also lead to tinnitus, visual disturbances and other indications of nerve irritation.
Once an individual is suspected with an injury to the neck, a healthcare professional must assess the condition of the individual to determine if any damage was sustained.
Home care for whiplash
A doctor must be consulted to diagnose whiplash. When it comes to minor strains or injuries involving the neck that does not have any serious symptoms, home care can be carried out. The home care for whiplash is focused on reducing the symptoms. You can enroll in a first aid course so that you know the steps to perform.
You can apply an ice pack over the neck to reduce the pain and swelling. It must be applied for 15-20 minutes and can be repeated every hour as needed for the initial 48-72 hours after the injury.
In case of a current condition, over-the-counter pain medications can be administered such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin. If in doubt regarding the medications to use, it is best to consult a doctor first for proper dosage.
The individual should limit taking part in strenuous activities such as heavy lifting or sports. Movement of the neck and head must be limited until the muscle tightness and pain have completely diminished.