Health Tips & Articles

Understanding Whiplash Injuries

by James D. Delsie, D.C.

During a whiplash injury, the head violently moves backward and forward, like the snapping of a whip. One of the most common causes of this type of injury is being struck from behind during a motor vehicle accident. These injuries can also occur when you are struck in the head, sustain a fall, or suffer a sports injury. Other forms of motor vehicle accidents such as front-end collisions or being broadsided by another vehicle can also cause your neck to move in a violent manner, leading to similar injuries.  

Whiplash accidents frequently result in sprain or strain injuries to the neck, due to inflammation caused by the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the neck being stretched beyond the normal limits. In milder cases, it is common to have stiffness and tightness of the neck muscles and discomfort with movement. More serious whiplash injuries can result in the tearing of muscle fibers, tendons, and/or ligaments, as well as fractures of the spine, intervertebral disc injuries, and concussions. Symptoms of a more serious injury may include severe pain, limited mobility of the neck, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness radiating into the arms.

Following any type of whiplash injury, it is recommended that your healthcare professional evaluate you. Your healthcare professional will assess your injuries and determine the need for any further diagnostic workup. Your physician will also determine whether pain medications, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxants should be included in your treatment regimen. Therapeutic disciplines such as chiropractic care or physical therapy may also be of value. The goal of therapy is to help with the reduction of pain, relaxation of musculature, and restoration of comfortable range of motion of the neck.

Should you be injured in a whiplash accident, please schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional as soon as possible for an evaluation.

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