What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a term used to describe neck pain as the result of injury to the soft tissues of your neck, specifically the muscles and ligaments. It is essentially a neck sprain or strain caused when a forceful, rapid back-and-forth force is applied to your head or neck that pushes it beyond its normal range of motion.

Whiplash can happen for many reasons, such as a sports injury, a fall, repetitive stress such as from phone work, or other personal injury, although it is most common from car accidents especially rear-end collisions. You should be aware that the severity of damage to your car does not necessarily indicate if you have whiplash or not. Speeds as low as 10 miles per hour can produce enough force to cause neck injury, with or without a seatbelt.

Our chiropractors and orthopedics health professionals are often asked by patients if they should always get checked out after an accident. Yes, always! Symptoms of whiplash usually appear within 24 hours and you should get checked out within one day if possible. Sometimes symptoms may not develop for weeks or months, so you should always get checked out right away regardless of if symptoms develop immediately.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

Symptoms may range from mild to severe, but whiplash usually feels like pain in the neck and shoulder. Other symptoms may include:

  • Arm pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Headache
  • Incontinence
  • Irritability
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Nerve pain
  • “Pins and needles”
  • Ringing in ears
  • Stiff neck
  • Tender neck
  • Trouble sleeping

You should see one of our doctors

How does BackFit treat whiplash?

Here at Backfit Health + Spine, we diagnose first with a thorough physical exam, including range of motion testing, reflexes, discussing how the injury occurred, where you feel pain, and what kind of pain it is (such as dull, shooting, or sharp). We will also provide digital x-rays in-house to confirm your pain isn’t connected to any other type of injury or condition, such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis. A CT scan or MRI may be ordered, but is usually not necessary for whiplash injuries.

In addition to a lot of rest and possibly icing, treatment for whiplash may include physical therapy as a a crucial role in faster recovery. Practicing PT exercises to build strength and flexibility in your neck will keep your neck muscles from straining while you recover. The goal of whiplash treatment is to control and reduce pain, restore normal range of motion, and return you to your normal everyday activities.

Some limited chiropractic care can also assist in recovery, a massage at BackFit may relieve some muscle tension, and electronic nerve stimulation (TENS or PENS) can also help.

What can I expect in my first visit?

If you are coming in after an accident, please bring your auto insurance, all 3rd party auto insurance involved in the accident, and if you’re hiring an attorney, any information they’ve provided you so far.

After an injury, you can expect no initial costs. We work regularly with insurance companies and attorneys to resolve the costs of an accident or injury. When you come in, we will provide you with an immediate treatment plan and explain how injury cases work in your state.

Whiplash

Woman holding neck in pain likely from whiplash from car accident

Definition

Injury caused by a severe jerk to the head not uncommon in car accidents.

Root Causes

Arm Pain, Blurred Vision, Difficulty Focusing, Dizziness, Headache, Irritability, Muscle Spasms, Neck Pain, Nerve Pain, Ringing In The Ears, Shoulder Pain, Stiff Neck, Trouble Sleeping

Risk Factors

Age, Existing Back Pain, Higher Speeds, Previous Whiplash

Treatments

Chiropractic, Electrotherapy, Ice, Massage Therapy, Pain Management, Physical Therapy

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