How to Know if You Have Whiplash

So you’ve been in a car accident or had a similar trauma to the neck. After the accident, your neck has become increasingly more painful and stiff. You have heard about whiplash before from friends and family, but how do you know if you have it so you can treat it?

Whiplash is a non-medical term that describes a distortion of the neck associated with extension. It is commonly caused by either being in a car accident or a traumatic fall, like from a bicycle. If you have had either one of these injuries, it’s likely a good idea to go get checked out by a medical professional, even if it turns out that you don’t have whiplash.

Whiplash is caused by the intense extension of the next as it goes backward and the flexion of the neck as it goes forward. It can cause strain to the muscles and ligaments that hold everything together.

How to Know if You Have Whiplash

If you have whiplash, you’ll experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the neck and the back
  • Referred pain into the shoulders
  • “pins and needles” feeling in the extremities
  • Headaches

Some symptoms are felt immediately, but some may take many days to manifest, so don’t discount whiplash as a possibility if you have a car accident or fall with no immediate pain.

In the case of whiplash, the normal curve of the spine is affected and most be restored.

How Whiplash is Diagnosed

A health professional will examine your pain with extension and flexion. He may take x-rays to check for any fractures. An MRI can further tell if there’s any injury to the ligaments or other soft tissue.

How Whiplash is Treated

  • A soft cervical collar may be temporarily used to immobilize the neck and control the pain if other methods aren’t successful in addressing the pain.
  • Alternating ice and heat can be used to reduce and control inflammation.
  • Use of muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful in reducing pain.
  • Physical therapy can help restore flexibility and range of motion.
  • Regular spinal adjustments can help restore mobility and reduce pain.

Whiplash Prevention

Since whiplash most occurs when hit in a car from behind, it’s important to wear your seatbelt. Make sure the headrest on your vehicle isn’t too low and you’re not driving in too much of a reclining position. If you participate in sports, make sure to always wear a helmet.

Have you recently had an accident and think you might be experiencing symptoms of whiplash? Call Georgia Spine and Disc to be seen for an evaluation.

How to Know if You Have Whiplash

How to Know if You Have Whiplash


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