Whiplash and its Lesser-Known Symptoms

neck pain

Car crashes, no matter what caused them, tend to result in relatively quick collisions. The amount of force the body is subjected to during a standard crash is far higher than anything one would encounter in everyday life, and this poses a risk for injury. One of the more common injuries from modern car crashes is whiplash.

Whiplash is a well-known injury associated with sudden impacts, and there are plenty of people that can tell you the symptoms of neck pain and stiffness. However, there are some symptoms of whiplash that are less obvious. While it may take a chiropractor or other doctor to officially diagnose these symptoms of whiplash, it is good to watch out for the signs of whiplash to provide the most effective and expedient treatment.

Whiplash and Cervical Spine Injuries

Whiplash and cervical spine injuries are often caused by rear-end car crashes where the head is forced quickly forward and backward like the cracking of a whip which is its namesake. Whiplash and other cervical spine injuries can be caused by sports with quick impacts like football or they can result from physical abuse such as being punched or shaken. The immediate symptoms of this type of injury is pain and stiffness within the neck (occurring within the first day or so after the injury occurs).

According to the Mayo Clinic, 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, [and] dizziness.” This is a rather large list of potential symptoms, and some do not seem like they would be directly connected to whiplash, so it is important to monitor your symptoms after a sudden collision to ensure you are healthy.

Not So Handy

After a crash, a patient may be sent to the ER to evaluate their injuries, but after ensuring the patient is stable, safe, and free of life-threatening injuries, the ER will likely send them home. Even though they take scans, the results may come back negative for spinal damage or whiplash especially if it is not a very severe case, and this gives the impression that a patient’s symptoms should just be fought through instead of seeking further treatment. If there seems to be something wrong in your body, there likely is, so it is always a good idea to seek further care if you are unsure.

Many people come into chiropractic centers after car crashes with numbness or tingling in their arms or hands- they usually are unsure what to attribute this sudden loss of sensation to and think something more malignant may be involved. Much of the time this loss of sensation is caused by whiplash after a sudden injury- thankfully, most cases of whiplash can be treated, and the best medicine seems to be therapy, rest, and exercise.

Chiropractic Care

Initially, a chiropractor will very gently assess the severity of the whiplash. Severity may vary due to the age of the patient, the force of the impact, or other biological factors. The chiropractor or physical therapist will evaluate the symptoms of the injury and test the range of motion of the patient’s neck. After this, a care plan will be created. Much of the treatment for whiplash includes therapy and exercise to increase the range of motion in the neck and strengthen the muscles in the neck to their former ability.

The Mayo Clinic says that you may likely use exercises such as “rotating your neck in both directions, tilting your head side to side, bending your neck toward your chest, rolling your shoulders” to regain your range of motion. Your therapist may also use something called electric muscle stimulation to allow the muscles to relax and release tension.

Final Thoughts

Whiplash is most certainly no fun at all, but it is usually very treatable- with the right exercise, proper rest, and therapy, most patients make a full recovery. Crashes and sports injuries may be scary, but the human body is very durable and can usually heal itself with proper care. If you are experiencing the symptoms of whiplash, please contact your doctor or chiropractor today, or if you need a consultation, call North County Pain Relief and they will be glad to answer your questions.