Whiplash is a neck injury that affects the intervertebral joints, discs, nerve roots, cervical muscles, and/or ligaments in the neck. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it’s among the most common auto accident injuries individuals involved in car accidents sustain.
What Do the Symptoms Look Like?
You may not realize that you have whiplash until 24 (or more) hours after you’ve sustained the injury. Typically, symptoms of whiplash first emerge within 24 hours, though. These include:
- Neck pain
- Low back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Numbness in the arm(s)
- Stiffness and soreness in or near the shoulders
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Trouble remembering things
- Disturbances or difficulty in sleeping
What Should You Do Immediately After An Accident?
It’s imperative that you seek treatment after an auto accident if you have substantial injuries or notice any of the aforementioned signs a few hours after the incident. Even if the neck or back pain you’re experiencing is mild and the dizziness seems to be temporary, it’s best to have it checked out to know for sure whether or not you have whiplash. It’s also recommended that you make an appointment with a doctor for the following day even if you don’t immediately feel any discomfort, as it’s likely that the symptoms will begin to show by that time.
The reason you may not immediately feel any pain after your accident is that oftentimes, the injured area swells up as a protective response to the trauma received. This swelling exerts pressure on the injured area, causing soreness the next day.
Sometimes the whiplash injuries weaken the muscles over time if left untreated. While you may not think you need medical aid immediately, the damage caused to your soft tissue will worsen over the next few days, resulting in intense pain and discomfort.
How Can Whiplash Be Treated?
While there is no one foolproof way to treat whiplash, a number of modalities can be incorporated to treat the injury and whiplash associated disorders (WADs). These include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Massage therapy
- Heat/Ice treatment
- Chiropractic care
- Neck braces/cervical collars
- Stretching and muscle strengthening exercises
- Injection therapy
- Pain relief medications
Your physician will devise a specific treatment plan for you to follow after examining your present condition to gauge the severity of your injury.
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