Whiplash is the common name for a neck injury such as a sprain or strain. Whiplash causes soft tissue damage after sudden extension and bending of the neck. A person who suffers whiplash may also receive injuries to ligaments, discs, and intervertebral joints.
A person that injures their neck may experience the following symptoms in the days following the injury:
Additional whiplash symptoms include pain in the arms or hands and fatigue. A whiplash injury may also cause tinnitus, vomiting, blurred vision, memory problems, and depression.
Car accidents are arguably the most common cause of whiplash. However, a fall or sports accident can also cause whiplash. Sometimes, whiplash is caused by an accidental kick to the head or neck when someone is participating in martial arts or kickboxing.
In women, whiplash is often caused by trauma such as physical abuse or assault. Whiplash is also seen in babies and toddlers subjected to abuse and is one of the injuries that cause shaken baby syndrome.
Risk factors for whiplash include previous injury, age, and existing back or neck problems. Whiplash is known to cause long-term complications such as chronic migraine. While doctors can trace the pain back to damaged ligaments and neck joints, there is often no medical explanation for chronic pain following whiplash.
To diagnose whiplash, doctors have to exclude other conditions. Doing this requires neurological examinations and imaging scans or diagnostic tests. These tests help to determine whether the brain has suffered an injury and if there is inflammation in the soft tissues or nerves. A doctor will also do a physical exam, ask about the patient’s medical history, and inquire about events that may have caused the whiplash.
Whiplash treatment mainly consists of pain relief, which means a doctor will typically prescribe pain medication and muscle relaxants. The patient may want to apply ice or heat for additional pain relief. When the injury begins to heal, the patient should do exercises to build neck strength. A physical therapist should oversee these exercises.
People recovering from whiplash should also practice good posture and learn relaxation techniques to prevent further strain on the neck.
Some swear by alternative remedies for pain caused by whiplash, such as massage and acupuncture. However, it is crucial to consult a doctor before pursuing alternative treatments.
Since car accidents are a major cause of whiplash injuries, the best way to prevent whiplash from a rear-end crash is to:
As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.