Vital Facts You Must Know About Whiplash
Whiplash occurs when the muscles or soft tissues in your neck are stretched suddenly and strained. And while many people scoff at the idea of whiplash, it can actually be a highly debilitating condition. There are a few vital facts you need to know about whiplash which we are going to take a look at today – so read on to find out more.
What causes whiplash?
You can get whiplash in a multitude of ways, but by far and away the most common is when you are involved in a car accident. When another vehicle hits you from the rear, your head is thrown backward and springs forwards in milliseconds, and the damage can range from minor to severe – it all depends on the speed at which the perpetrator is traveling. As everyone knows, the neck is a delicate area in the vast majority of cases, and the fact that it has to support your heavy head means it is vulnerable when it comes to accidents. It’s also important to remember that the neck is actually part of the top of the spine. So, while most cases of whiplash involve injury and sprain to the neck muscles, there could be underlying problems with the upper part of the spine, too.
Is it just car accident problem?
Absolutely not – while being involved in a car crash is the most common cause of whiplash, other activities can cause it, too. Football players, for example, can suffer whiplash if they are caught unawares by a crunching tackle. And it’s the same for any other contact sport, from martial arts through to ice hockey. Ultimately, anything that makes a connection to your head and causes it to snap back and forth is going to have an impact – and whiplash is often the end result.
What does it feel like?
Primarily, you will experience whiplash as a pain in the neck and at the top of your shoulders. It might not start straight away, either – your symptoms could take a few days to develop, or in some cases, even a few months. And one of the big [problems with whiplash is that the symptoms can vary from person to person, so whereas some people will be able to lead a relatively normal life, others could have quite significant problems. Whiplash can cause spasms in certain people, and there could be a pain when you move your head in any direction. Some people report difficulty in chewing and swallowing – which might indicate deeper problems in the throat and voice box. Finally, some whiplash sufferers report they have a strange burning sensation, as well as pain that spreads further down their back.
How do you know you have it?
It’s important, of course, to see a doctor whenever you have an accident that could have given you whiplash – regardless of whether or not you are experiencing any pain or discomfort. Your doctor will give you a physical examination, and if they can’t uncover anything obvious you may be sent to have an X-ray to ensure there is no spinal damage. It’s also common to have an MRI ir CT scan in case you have anything like a slipped disc or any damage to your ligaments.
What can you do about it?
Most cases of whiplash will clear up after a while, but it can take some time. Your doctor will typically prompt you to lead as normal life as possible, and make sure you are getting enough exercise. Painkillers are also offered. However, in more severe cases, you might be given a neck brace, to ensure that your injury gets the chance to repair itself without any disturbances and movements. And in less common cases and more severe whiplash incidents, you will be offered the opportunity to go for physical therapy treatment, which will help you increase your circulation and promote healing in the afflicted area.
Can it get worse?
There are some cases of whiplash being incredibly severe – particularly after a nasty car crash or a similar incident that occurs at high impact. Some doctors offer trigger point injections to relieve tension and pain, and there might be nerve pinches to consider. However, the biggest problems with whiplash arise when it has impacted the top of your spine.While surgery is rarely necessary, it does happen every now and again, and although most doctors will prefer to try all non-invasive treatments first, an operation might be your only option if your whiplash is actually impacting your life for an extended period.
How can I avoid whiplash when driving?
While there is little you can do when you get hit from behind by a speeding car, there is still plenty of good habits you can develop when driving. Wear your seat belt correctly, for a start, and make sure that your headrest isn’t too low. The further your head travels back, the worse your whiplash is going to be when you get rear ended. Most headrests won’t be at the optimum height when you are driving, either, so one of the first things you should do after buying a new car is set it up correctly.
How can I avoid whiplash when playing sports?
Again, it can be hard to stop getting whiplash when you are caught by surprise. It’s important to wear the correct safety equipment for the sport you are involved in, and also to focus on developing your technique as much as possible. For example, when you are trained to take a tackle in football, your coach will advise you on how you should ‘roll with the punch.’ It’s also worth pointing out that developing your neck muscles can give you and your head a lot more support than it does right now.
Whiplash is one of those conditions that often gets a bad press, mainly because so many people claim for it in the event of a car accident. However, this fact shouldn’t detract from the fact that whiplash can be hugely debilitating. However, if you maintain a good level of overall health, exercise regularly, and make sure you are eating plenty of healthy food, you should be able to see out most cases of whiplash. And, as always, you should seek out advice from a medical professional.