Each year, more than a million car accident victims experience whiplash, a non-medical term for a collection of very real, and often debilitating, neck and spine symptoms. Whiplash injuries affect soft tissues of the neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles) and are caused by movement beyond the neck’s normal range of motion.
If you’ve been injured, your car accident whiplash symptoms may include the inability to move your head, headaches, pain and aching in your neck and back, pain down one or both arms, sensory disturbance (aka “pins and needles”) to the arms and legs, and pain that comes back after being gone for a few days. If you or a loved one have recently survived a car accident and are experiencing increasing back pain, reach out to a doctor and get a complete analysis of your neck and spine symptoms.
Basic whiplash symptoms can include: neck pain/stiffness, headache, shoulder pain/stiffness, dizziness or fatigue, jaw pain, arm pain or weakness, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). With severe and chronic whiplash, a group of chronic symptoms called “whiplash associated disorder” can develop. Symptoms include anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance and other signs of depression.
With so many possible symptoms, whiplash treatments vary and some treatments haven’t been well tested. It’s important that your doctor explain your condition to you, so you can avoid aggravating your whiplash injury. Often your initial treatment will include wearing a soft cervical collar, which reduces the range of motion of the neck to prevent any additional injuries.
In addition to the surgical collars, physical therapy can be helpful in some cases, to both strengthen muscles and reduce the pain of motion associated with whiplash. Occupational therapy can be used to help you return to work. Rest or immobilization, without structured rehab and physical activity, actually slows the healing process.