Whiplash arises if the head is moved abruptly backward and forward with extreme force. The injury is prevalent after a rear-end vehicular collision. Other causes stem from sports injuries, physical abuse or riding amusement park rides.
The soft tissues of the neck are excessively stretched beyond their normal range of motion. The signs might not arise for a while; thus, it is vital to pay close attention to any physical changes for a few days after any accident.
Even though it is considered as a mild condition, it can result to lasting pain and discomfort.
How does a whiplash occur?
Whiplash arises once the neck muscles ends up with a strain due to rapid backward and forward movement. The abrupt movement causes the ligaments and tendons to stretch and tear, resulting to whiplash.
Some of the causes include:
- Vehicular accidents
- Cycling accidents
- Horseback riding
- Physical abuse such as being shaken or punched
- Playing contact sports such as boxing, football and karate
- Falls where the head is violent jerked backwards
- Direct blows to the head with a heavy object
What are the indications?
The signs generally arise within 24 hours after the accident responsible for whiplash. Oftentimes, the symptoms might develop after a few days and might last for several weeks.
The usual symptoms typically include:
- Neck pain and rigidity
- Blurry vision
- Headaches, usually at the base of the skull
- Constant tiredness
Management of whiplash
When managing whiplash, over-the-counter pain medications are used. For severe injuries, prescription pain medications and muscle relaxants are given to reduce the muscle spasms.
Aside from drugs, physical therapy has a vital role in the recovery process. An ice pack or warm compress can be applied on the site. In addition, simple exercises to restore strength and flexibility in the neck are also suggested.
A foam collar is also used to keep the neck stable. Remember that it should not be worn more than 3 hours at a time.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on whiplash is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Toronto First Aid.