Whiplash - What to Do
Whiplash is a neck and spine injury most typically caused by a rear end collision in a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA). It can be caused by other things as well such as a blow to the head, a sports injury, or a slip and fall. The mechanism by which the injury occurs is a rapid back and forth stretch to the structures of the neck and/or back that includes the joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and intervertebral discs. It doesn’t take a lot of force or high speeds for an injury to occur. Many low impact collisions such as 5-10 MPH can cause injury as well. Older people and those already with a spine problem are most at risk for serious whiplash injury.
Symptoms sometimes show up immediately, and sometimes there can be a lag in the development of symptoms. Typical symptoms after an injury can include neck pain, neck stiffness, headaches, dizziness, shoulder pain, back pain, numbness of the extremities, visual disturbances, and tinnitus. Concussion is also possible, and can cause symptoms of blurry vison, concentration issues, memory dysfunction, vertigo, balance disturbance, anxiety and depression. Concussion can occur with or without hitting your head.
What should you do in case you were involved in an MVA?
- Apply Ice for 15 minutes as often as possible for the first 48-72 hours. After that apply moist heat for 15 minutes every 2-3 hours. Be sure to wrap the ice or heat pack in a towel to protect your skin
- Rest in the acute phase of the injury only
- Resting for more than a few days can actually cause more damage and prolong the pain.
- Move your neck gently to help prevent further stiffness
- Maintain good posture while sitting, standing and sleeping to reduce stress on the spine joints and muscles.
- If you are working at a computer or desk take frequent breaks
- Avoid cradling the telephone between you head and shoulder
- Avoid carrying heavy packages, especially things like a purse or back-pack slung over only one shoulder.
If your symptoms are not going away or are getting worse, you should be evaluated at the Coram Selden Chiropractic Office with a physical and neurologic examination. We would order x-rays and/or MRI imaging, to determine the extent of your injuries, and what the best course of therapy would be.