Whiplash is an injury to the neck that sometimes happens after a passenger or driver in a car is rear-ended by another vehicle. The head snaps backward then snaps forward with such violence that the ligaments and muscles in the neck are strained. Nerves and the discs in the cervical vertebrae can also be adversely involved.
People who’ve been in an accident might suspect they’re suffering from whiplash if they feel a pain and stiffness in the back of the neck, either right after the accident or up to 24 hours afterwards. The person might also experience dizziness and headache and his or her vision might be blurred. He or she might be more fatigued than normal.
In some cases of whiplash, there might also be nausea and vomiting and cognitive problems like loss of memory. The person might experience ringing in his or her ears and insomnia or other sleep disorders. He or she might find it difficult to concentrate and become irritable.
If You Even Suspect a Problem, Get it Checked
If the person starts experiencing pain, tingling, weakness or numbness in the arms, shoulders or face, he or she should call a doctor right away. A doctor should also be called if it’s too painful for the person to move his or her head. Often individuals who are involved in a fender-bender are not getting treated or even checked because they don’t want to deal with the hassle. If left alone these problems will not just go away but can, in fact, get exponentially worse. The doctor might use tests like X-rays, CT scans and MRIs to diagnose whiplash and rule out other disorders like a neck fracture or dislocation or arthritis.
After Diagnosis – Potential Treatment
If the doctor diagnoses whiplash, he or she might instruct the patient to apply ice packs to the neck for about 10 to 20 minutes each hour during the first 24 hours. After that, heat can be added to the ice pack. The heat can come in the form of warm compresses, heat lamps or warm showers. The doctor might also recommend that the patient sleep without a pillow for a while or sleep with his or her head supported by a rolled up towel. In severe cases, the doctor might have the patient fitted with a Thomas collar. This is a collar of padded fabric that stabilizes the neck. Other therapies can include ultrasound and therapies like myofascial release. This is a deep tissue massage that stimulates increased blood flow to the injured area.
If over-the-counter pain meds like ibuprofen or aspirin don’t help, the doctor might prescribe stronger pain medications. He or she might also give the patient drugs that relax muscle spasms or inject the area with anesthetics like lidocaine.
Being involved in an accident, no matter how small, can really take a toll on your body. Don’t hesitate to seek help where available after being involved in an accident.
Information Credit: Cantini Law Group Accident and Disability Lawyers
This article is from Meghan Belnap, blogger, researcher, and freelance writer.