If you think you have whiplash after an accident, here’s what you need to know.
People commonly experience symptoms of whiplash after an accident, but did you know that whiplash isn’t a medical condition on its own?
Rather, it refers to the movement and overextension in your head, neck and spine that can lead to other conditions.
Keith Fuicelli discusses what you need to know about whiplash:
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a common term used for the flexion and extension of the cervical spine – or the portion of the spine in your neck and upper back. Whiplash occurs most often when a slow-moving or stopped car is rear-ended, and the driver or passengers lurch forward from the impact.
According to spine-health.com, whiplash:
“…occurs when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through lightning-quick motions and extreme stresses.
Most cases of whiplash are caused by car accidents where the person has been rear-ended. Other potential whiplash causes, while comparatively rare, can include assault, bungee jumping, rollercoaster, football, falls while skiing or during equestrian events, and other high-impact activities where extreme acceleration-deceleration forces might be applied to the cervical spine.”
Common whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain and/or stiffness
- Decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders
- Shoulder and/or upper back pain
- Numbness or tingling that extends from the neck and shoulders down the arm and into the fingers
- Dizziness, fatigue or ringing in ears
- Trouble sleeping
- Emotional changes
What conditions are caused by whiplash?
Flexion in the neck, due to an impact, can lead to a number of medical concerns, including:
- Sprain or strain
- Ligament damage
- Or, most concerning, upper cervical instability due to facet joint damage
A sprain or a strain caused by whiplash often heals on its own in a month or two, but ligament damage or cervical spine instability can last much longer and can cause more complications.
The Mayfield Brain & Spine clinic describes facet joint syndrome:
“Facet joint syndrome is an arthritis-like condition of the spine that can be a significant source of back and neck pain. It is caused by degenerative changes to the joints between the spine bones. The cartilage inside the facet joint can break down and become inflamed, triggering pain signals in nearby nerve endings. Medication, physical therapy, joint injections, nerve blocks, and nerve ablations may be used to manage symptoms. Chronic symptoms may require surgery to fuse the joint.”
Only your doctor can diagnose your injuries and recommend the right treatment plan. That is why it is so important to visit your doctor immediately after a car accident, even if you feel fine. Symptoms can show up several days or weeks later, and it’s always a good idea to receive medical care if you have experienced a significant impact. Your doctor will assess how severe your injuries might be and will recommend the best treatment options.
To learn more about your treatment and medical coverage options if you are suffering from a whiplash injury, contact us for a free case evaluation.