Whiplash is the term that is used to describe the condition that arises as a result of tendons and ligaments of the neck being hyper-extended which can result in pain, headaches, stiffness and a loss of movement.
The tendons are tough, fibrous bands that connect your muscles to your bones and the ligaments are connective tissues that join two bones at a joint. When these forces to extend beyond their normal range it is known as a sprain.
Whiplash usually occurs as the result of an accident and the symptoms can take up to six hours to appear. Whilst motor vehicles are a well known cause of whiplash, it can also arise as a result of a blow to the head or a sudden slip or fall.
The pain and stiffness may only really be felt the day after the accident and then may get worse over the course of the next few days.
The head is usually thrown forwards, backwards or sideways and this movement is what causes the damage.
Even though the ligament is not broken, it can take months for the injury to heal. Other symptoms that may arise include;
- Muscle spasms
- Lower back pain
- Pins and needles in the arms and hands
- Pain or numbness in the arms and hands
- Problems with vision
Sometimes the condition can also lead to irritability as well as concentration and memory problems. If symptoms like vertigo and dizziness persist, you should seek medical advice.
In many cases, the symptoms of whiplash will not last longer than around six months and when they do it is known as chronic whiplash.
In terms of treatment for whiplash in many cases only basic measures need to be taken as it is something that will improve unaided.
Pain killers and anti-inflammatories can be prescribed for neck pain and headaches. It is important to keep the area mobile even though it may cause some discomfort to do so.
Without movement, the recovery process can be prolonged and more painful by nature. If the symptoms persist over a course of weeks, you may be referred to a physiotherapist who will be able to use massage and manipulation to aid your recovery as well as showing you effective exercises to do at home.
In the case of chronic whiplash treatment approaches should continue to be specific to your symptoms. It is important to follow any guidelines that you are given and even small changes such as participating in yoga, maintaining good posture and sleeping with one pillow instead of two can make a difference in the long run.
If this is the case, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with those around you and your doctor in order to get support.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding whiplash or any other orthopedic condition, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor, as he will be able to advise you accordingly and make any necessary referrals.