Most whiplash injuries are caused by car accidents. By definition, whiplash is an injury to your neck caused by your neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa. The injury can be very complicated, involving the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons. Patients with whiplash can feel pain in their neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, hips and legs. People with whiplash may also have symptoms that you might not readily associate with the accident, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, memory problems or tingling in the hands or feet. The best method of treatment starts with early exam and diagnosis from a medical professional.
How is a whiplash diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. If you have been in an accident and suffer from symptoms of whiplash, your doctor may order a diagnostic image to view the internal structure of the neck, such as:
- X-ray to review the internal tissues, bones, and organs onto electromagnetic film to provide an overall injury picture.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A more detailed image of organs and soft tissue structures in your body provided by a large mapping machine that uses magnets to create a photo of the injury.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. X-rays and computer technology make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of your body. A CT scan may provide a dimensional view of the injury.
How can your whiplash be treated?
After a thorough examination, your Brooks Clinic provider will chart a path to minimize your pain and to see healing progress. Some treatments may seem very simple and can be managed at home – others need to be provided by a trained medical professional. These treatments might include:
- Ice applications as instructed
- Neck collar stabilization
- Gentle, active movement after 24 hours
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen)
- Muscle relaxing medicines
- Physical therapy
- Osteopathic manipulation
When should I call The Brooks Clinic?
If you are in an auto accident and know that your next experienced flexation, you should talk with The Brooks Clinic doctor about the degree of damage very quickly – the same day if possible. The sooner you are diagnosed, the quicker your rehabilitation can begin and the less likely you are to further damage the injured tissue. Here are the key points to remember about whiplash:
- A Whiplash injury is complicated, but usually involves the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in your neck.
- It is caused by the neck flexing forcibly forward and then backward, in a snapping motion, or vice versa.
- Most whiplash injuries occur during a rear-end automobile accident.
- Your Brooks Clinic doctor will determine specific diagnostic & treatment plans for your whiplash.
- The more quickly you are evaluated, the better chance you have of helping the tissue heal faster.
- Whiplash can linger for weeks, even months. Regular treatment will aid in supporting the healing process.