Did you get into a car accident recently? Have you been wondering how to identify the symptoms of whiplash?
Having whiplash can be terrible, especially during the early stages of your recovery. It’s crucial that you know what you’re dealing with and have a game plan for tackling the challenges ahead.
Continue reading to learn more about whiplash injury symptoms and what you can do about them.
Whiplash Injury Definition
First of all, what is whiplash injury?
Whiplash injury is characterized as a tissue injury caused when a person’s head experiences an abrupt backward and/or forward motion jerking the head forward and backward very quickly.
This type of injury happens most commonly due to vehicular accidents when the momentum of a moving vehicle causes the neck to move quickly back and forth, hence the name “whiplash.” However, this injury can also come from sports or physical impact that involves sudden neck movements such as contact sports or going down a roller coaster. This type of neck pain can be excruciating and can last for days or weeks depending on the intensity of the impact.
Know the Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms of a whiplash injury is key to identifying and starting a recovery process. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Lower back pain
Other whiplash injury symptoms might include fatigue, blurred vision, and tinnitus. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to begin a proper recovery process. An X-ray may be taken to determine the extent of the injury.
Seeking Medical Attention
Whiplash can be difficult to diagnose and is a serious injury that can cause disability if not treated. Seeking medical attention, there are other steps you can take to identify and start the recovery process for a whiplash injury.
If these symptoms persist for more than a few days after the accident, medical attention should be sought.
Doctors will be able to properly diagnose whiplash injuries and advise on the appropriate recovery process, including medications, physical therapy, and other treatments. Following a doctor’s advice is important in order to ensure a full and speedy recovery.
Rest Your Body
It is important to gently rest the affected area to give the tissue time to heal. When resting the body, avoid activities that may increase neck pain or other symptoms and instead, focus on activities that may alleviate pain such as gentle stretches and relaxation techniques. Soft neck collars, hot/cold compresses, light exercise, massage, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can also be useful in relieving discomfort.
Consulting with a medical professional, such as a Physiotherapist, can help you to learn the best recovery methods and start your journey to recovery safely and effectively.
Apply Heat or Cold
Heat helps to increase blood flow and decrease muscle tightness, while cold reduces inflammation and swelling. A combination of both applied, consecutively, can prove to be beneficial in dealing with the condition. If your neck is sore or in pain, a heating pad or warm towel can be applied.
Remember to test the temperature first, because the heat applied too intensely may cause burns. For intense swelling, a cold pack can be used.
Wrapped it in a thin compress like a kitchen cloth so as to avoid frostbite. These therapies should be applied for about 15 minutes at a time, a maximum of 3 times a day.
Practice Gentle Exercises
It is important to begin gentle exercise immediately to help reduce pain and swelling and allow for maximum healing. A physiotherapist can help to suggest specific exercises tailored to an individual. Examples of these exercises include extension and flexion of the neck, kneeling exercises, and isometric holds for the neck and torso.
It is essential to stay within comfortable ranges during any movements and take frequent breaks from the exercises. With patience and commitment, an individual can successfully recover from a whiplash injury with the help of gentle exercises.
One important part of recovery is practicing gentle exercises. Start slowly by doing simple neck stretches and motion exercises to prevent the neck muscles from becoming stiff. Gradually add more exercises that focus on breathing and relaxation, such as:
- Shoulder rolls
- Shoulder blade squeeze
- Gentle yoga poses
Consider Physical Therapy
It’s important to seek medical attention in order to accurately diagnose and begin treatment for whiplash injury. If a medical professional has recommended physical therapy as part of the whiplash injury treatment plan, then it’s important to follow through and be proactive in the recovery process.
An experienced physical therapist can provide hands-on care to promote healing and recovery. He/she can provide therapeutic exercise to help strengthen and support the neck area. They can also provide advice and guidance on the following:
- How to manage pain
- Increase mobility and range of motion
- Prevent the risk of any potential re-injury
You may also consider consulting a car accident chiropractor. Seeing either a chiropractor or a physical therapist is a good option.
A chiropractor will assess the injury, and focus on the correct alignment of the spine and muscle balance to reduce pain and improve overall mobility and range of motion. Whereas a physical therapist will assess the injury and use exercise techniques to help restore the range of motion and relieve pain. Both of these treatments can be an effective way to manage and alleviate pain and start the recovery process.
Taking Pain Medication
Pain medication may be recommended to help reduce pain and inflammation. It is important to follow dosage instructions and use the medication in conjunction with appropriate exercises, stretches, and other treatments. If any concerning side effects occur or the pain does not improve, contact a healthcare professional for further advice.
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. However, always consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Follow This Guide on How to Identify Whiplash Injury Symptoms
Whiplash injury symptoms can be subtle and debilitating. If you are in an auto accident, it is important to be mindful of potential whiplash and take proactive steps to prevent escalating symptoms. Take the steps outlined in this article to identify signs of whiplash and take action to get on the road to recovery.
Seek help from a medical professional if your symptoms persist.
If you want more information and advice on topics like this, be sure to check out the rest of our blog posts.