What are the symptoms of Whiplash?
The symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, neck stiffness, back pain and/or lower back pain. Whiplash sufferers can also experience headaches, or pain in any part of the head and jaw.
Other symptoms include shoulder pain, arm pain, hand pain, the radiation of pain into the upper extremities, dizziness, numbness in the arm and/or hand, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, concentration or memory problems, irritability, difficulty chewing or swallowing, burning or prickling sensations, sleeplessness and fatigue.
Symptoms may occur at the time of injury, or several days later, and may resemble other conditions and medical problems. Consult a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
What are common causes of Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck commonly caused by car accidents, falls and contact sports.
A sudden and extreme back-and-forth motion of the head can force the neck beyond its normal range of motion, hyperextending the cervical spine. If the cervical facet joints are injured, the nerves of the brainstem and spinal cord can become inflamed or irritated, causing a wide range of pain and discomfort.
Whiplash, or cervical acceleration/deceleration (or CAD) syndrome, can also injure supporting ligaments, joints and muscles in the neck.
How is Whiplash diagnosed?
There are a number of ways to diagnose whiplash:
1. Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) is a diagnostic procedure that uses large magnets and a computer to produce detailed images of structures inside the body.
2. A computed tomography (CT) scan feeds X-rays into a computer program to produce vertical and horizontal cross-sectional images, or “slices” of the body’s interior.
3. An exam from a licensed physician can detect nerve and joint damage, bulging, herniated or ruptured discs, and muscle swelling and tenderness that is common with whiplash.
What are some treatment options for Whiplash?
The first step in treating whiplash is usually to immobilize the neck with a soft cervical collar. Medication and nerve blocks can reduce the pain and swelling associated with whiplash. A course of physical therapy is effective in clearing all symptoms.
For more extreme cases, injections of steroids or anesthetics into the facet joints of the spine may provide temporary relief, which radio frequency pain blocks may be deployed for longer-term relief.
Specific treatments for whiplash vary based on the extent of the injury, age, health, medical history, tolerance for medications, procedures or therapies, expectations, and the opinions and preferences of the patient.