What Causes Whiplash?
Whiplash is caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head, either backward or forward, and often occurs as a result of a car accident.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash may be delayed for 24 hours or more after the initial trauma. However, people who experience whiplash may develop one or more of the following symptoms, usually within the first few days after the injury.
Neck pain and stiffness
Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
Low back pain
Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
Difficulty concentrating or remembering
Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
In most cases, injuries are to soft tissues such as the disks, muscles and ligaments, and cannot be seen on standard X-rays. Specialized imaging tests, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required to diagnose whiplash.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
No single treatment has been scientifically proven as effective for whiplash, but pain relieving medications such as Motrin or Aleve along with gentle exercises, physical therapy traction, massage, heat, ice, injections and ultrasound all have been helpful for certain patients.
In the past, whiplash injuries were often treated with immobilization in a cervical collar. However, the current trend is to encourage early movement instead of immobilization. Ice may be applied for the first 24 hours, followed by gentle active movement.