What is a whiplash injury?
Whiplash is a neck injury most commonly associated with auto accidents, as well as sports accidents. Sometimes referred to as a neck sprain or strain, whiplash occurs when your head is forcefully thrown backward and then forward.
Such a sudden and violent jolt can cause your neck to move beyond its normal range of motion which may harm your bones, as well as the disks between bones, ligaments, muscles, and nerves.
According to WebMD, one of the most common causes of whiplash is rear-end auto collisions. Additionally, collisions in contact sports like football or boxing can result in neck injuries, including whiplash.
Common symptoms of whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash will usually develop within 24 hours of the injury. However, Healthline notes that in some cases symptoms may take a few days to appear.
The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
Other symptoms related to whiplash include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
When to see a doctor
If you have sustained a neck injury as the result of an auto accident or a sports accident, it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from your doctor in order to be properly treated for your injury.
Although many people who suffer from whiplash begin to feel better within a few weeks of sustaining their injury, some people may continue to experience chronic pain for months or even years after an accident. Most doctors will prescribe an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol to treat minor cases of whiplash.
However, more serious whiplash injuries may require prescription painkillers or muscle relaxants to treat. Additionally, a doctor may recommend physical therapy or simple exercises to build strength and flexibility in the neck.
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