Seeking Whiplash Therapy: Tips for Recognizing Whiplash Symptoms
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by rapid forward and backward motion of the head. It’s often the result of auto accidents or other trauma. People with a whiplash injury usually experience short-term neck pain, limited mobility in the upper spine, and discomfort.
Though this type of injury is fairly common, whiplash can have serious consequences if it is not properly treated. We’ve provided some clear information about the signs and symptoms of this type of injury.
What Causes Whiplash?
You’ve probably heard of whiplash associated with car crashes or getting rear-ended. Though people can also get this kind of neck injury from participating in contact sports, amusement park rides, or physical assault, for example. Any activity that involves force and sudden changes in direction, that can impact the neck or spine, have the potential to cause whiplash.
Rapid movement which forces the head back and forward makes the neck muscles flex and extend in the same moment. This can do damage to the muscles, nerves, vertebral discs, ligaments in the neck, and spine. Whiplash is a painful injury which can be difficult to treat, and which can lead to long-term conditions if not addressed quickly and correctly.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Whiplash?
If you think you may have suffered a whiplash injury, you should always refer first to your doctor for a timely diagnosis. Here are some of the signs to look for if you suspect this type of neck injury:
Symptoms Affecting the Neck
- Discomfort and stiffness in the neck,
- Limited mobility and range of motion in the neck,
- Pain when turning neck,
- Muscle spasms in the neck.
Symptoms Affecting the Upper Body
- Discomfort and stiffness in the shoulders and arms,
- Pain in the upper back,
- Tingling or numbness from the neck to the arms.
Symptoms Affecting Mood
- Trouble concentrating,
- Difficulty with memory,
- Blurred vision,
- Sleep disturbances,
- Ringing in the ears.
People dealing with a whiplash injury will likely experience some of these symptoms. The most common issues are those affecting the neck. If you have noticed any of these signs following a trauma to your neck or back, you should talk with your doctor.
How Long Does It Take to See Symptoms of Whiplash?
There’s no clear answer to this question; every patient is different. You may feel pain or notice other symptoms of whiplash after just a few hours. They may also appear in the day and weeks following an accident or trauma. Typically, patients will start to notice symptoms within 24 hours of the injury.
This window of time is important. Many people who are involved in an accident don’t feel pain right away. Sometimes the fear and adrenaline following a crash or traumatic incident also work to keep pain at bay for a period of time. But when discomfort and stiffness in the neck or back is noticed later, precious treatment time has been lost already. It’s important to promptly seek medical attention if there is potential for a whiplash injury.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Whiplash?
With proper therapy, most people feel relief within a few weeks or months of the original injury. It takes time and careful treatment to help these tissues repair themselves and restore mobility. During recovery, stretching or forcing the tissues too much can cause further damage and slow progress.
What happens if you leave whiplash untreated?
There are long-term health consequences for leaving whiplash untreated. Especially for patients who felt intense pain quickly following the accident, pain and complications can result. If someone fails to get treated for whiplash, the soreness can last for years or even become permanent. The pain and discomfort caused by whiplash can be debilitating; one study found that nearly 8% of patients were still unable to return to normal activity and work one year after a whiplash injury.
Here’s an overview of the possible health issues associated with untreated whiplash.
Chronic Pain & Stiffness
Unfortunately, continual pain and limited range of motion are common long-term effects of whiplash which wasn’t treated properly. Over time, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons which were overextended can provide limited mobility and put stress on the neck, spine and shoulders.
Swelling and inflammation in the neck, head and back muscles decreases the ability to turn and move the neck. Loss of mobility can be problematic for those hoping to get back to their normal activities and job. These symptoms can get worse - if not treated – and lead to other health problems including migraine headaches and shoulder pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease
If whiplash isn’t treated adequately, it can lead to a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Over time, torn neck muscles, and displaced or herniated discs in the upper spine, can progressively wear down the vertebral discs. This eventually decreases flexibility and mobility in the neck and back. It also becomes easier to further injury the area.
In the instant when the head is forced into motion, the vertebrae in the upper portion of the neck can slip out of alignment. This contributes to the problem of decreased range of motion. With time, however, this can also cause damage to the spine, inhibit normal function of the central nervous system, and lead to abnormal posture.
Misalignment of the cervical spine resulting from a neck trauma can trigger non-vestibular dizziness, or vertigo. This is a rather common side effect of whiplash injuries and it can become chronic if left untreated. The sensation of feeling faint, spinning or falling, is also associated with nausea, loss of balance, and dangerous falls.
Many people who have been subject to a whiplash injury experience headaches. Usually, the pain is located near the base of the back of the head to the base of the neck. Headaches and migraines may be felt soon after the accident or in the days and weeks following it. Sometimes, headache pains seems to travel from the back, spine, or shoulders. Without sufficient treatment, these can become a persistent problem.
Start the Recovery Process Today
Don’t wait for the pain or discomfort from an injury to get worse. Begin the process towards recovery and wellness today. Contact Medina Sports & Family Chiropractic by calling or fill out the online form to schedule your first no-obligation consultation.