Get the Facts on Whiplash

Get the Facts on Whiplash

Whiplash is a common neck strain that occurs when the neck is suddenly and forcefully whipped backward and then forward again, causing mild to moderate strain in the neck. The strain is caused by the pulling of the muscles and ligaments in your neck beyond their normal range of motion. Sometimes the pain caused by whiplash is not initially present and can take a couple days to manifest.

Symptoms of whiplash

Symptoms of whiplash can be mild to moderate and can last up to several weeks. Symptoms generally include:

  • Difficulty moving the neck
  • Pain, stiffness or tension in the neck
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulders, upper back or arms
  • Worsening pain with movement
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches at the base of the skull
  • Dizziness

Some less common, but notable symptoms include:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Impaired memory or concentration

Causes of whiplash

Whiplash can be caused by a variety of events. Although car accidents are the number one culprit and the most well known cause of whiplash, contact sports can also put you at risk for whiplash. Accidents while participating in sports like skiing, cycling or horseback riding can also cause whiplash.

When to see a physician

Though most people wait out the symptoms of whiplash until they go away, it is important to know certain times when seeing a physician is beneficial. If the pain felt from whiplash is severe or if you are experiencing any pain, numbness or tingling in your shoulders, arms or legs that’s affecting your normal routine, it may be time to seek professional treatment.

Treatment options for whiplash

After a discussion of your symptoms and a thorough examination of your neck by your physician, there are a few things he or she may recommend moving forward. Some treatment options to help relieve symptoms include:

  • Ice or heat – Applying ice or heat to the muscle strain for 15-minute increments, several times a day can help relax the muscles.
  • Rest – Rest can help ease future pain, but it’s only helpful in the first 24 hours after the incident.
  • Injections – Sometimes an injection of a numbing agent called lidocaine (Xylocaine) can be beneficial to treatment.
  • OTC pain medications – Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can aid in relieving mild cases of whiplash.
  • Prescription medications – In more severe and rare cases, a prescription pain reliever can help with short-term treatment.
  • Muscle relaxants – In more moderate cases where sleep patterns are affected, sometimes a muscle relaxant can help.

If you have been in a recent accident that is causing muscle strain, call the experts at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 522-6930 to schedule your appointment.