Whiplash is the common name associated with neck sprains and strains caused by a sudden impact causing the head to abruptly jerk forwards, backwards, or sideways. The violent force of this snapping motion causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch and tear. It can occur any time the neck is hyperextended or hyperflexed. However, motor vehicle accidents such as rear-end collisions remain the most common cause of whiplash injuries.
Often, whiplash injuries result in soft tissue damage which may heal over time with proper treatment. Other symptoms of whiplash include:
Many of these symptoms are easy to ignore. Victims dismiss the soreness and stiffness as the result of sleeping in an uncomfortable position and fail to seek treatment. They often believe the pain will dissipate on its own. This can lead to more serious problems, including depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. It is important for a person to seek medical attention to treat whiplash symptoms as soon as possible after an accident to avoid these additional complications.
A doctor can treat symptoms associated with whiplash in a variety of ways. Depending on the extent of the injury, a doctor may recommend icing or heating the affected area, using painkillers or drugs to numb the pain or reduce inflammation, use of a neck brace or collar to immobilize the neck, physical therapy and exercises to stretch the sore muscles, acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic manipulation. Only a medical professional is qualified to give advice on how to treat a medical issue like whiplash.
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