How Do You Know If You Have Whiplash?

Whiplash, a common result of car accidents, is caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head and neck. The biggest concern surrounding whiplash, however, is the fact that symptoms may be delayed for days, or even weeks, after the trauma.

Symptoms of Whiplash

So, how do you know if the pain you’re experiencing is whiplash? Whiplash is characterized by:

  • Stiffness and neck pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Concentration issues
  • Fatigue and irritability

Common Causes of Whiplash

Though car accidents (specifically fender benders) are the most common cause of whiplash, there are many other activities that have been linked to whiplash such as:

  • Falls
  • Amusement park rides
  • Skiing
  • Extreme sports and contact sports
  • Rigorous or strenuous activities

Whiplash Diagnosis

Whiplash may be hard to avoid, but there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate or lessen the likeliness of chronic or residual symptoms. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, or even just a minor fender bender, it’s important to visit your family doctor or chiropractor as they’re able to immediately identify any injuries that may have occurred and treat them accordingly. It’s crucial to remember that just because you feel fine immediately following an accident, this does not mean you have not sustained whiplash.

To identify whether or not you’ve experienced whiplash, a physician or chiropractor will examine you for signs of the injury by testing your range of motion, level of pain/tenderness and reflexes. Though it is not a guarantee, it’s possible that your physician or chiropractor will suggest x-rays or a CT (Computerized Tomography) scan to be performed to rule out dislocations, bone damage, fractures and arthritis.

Whiplash Treatment

If you are diagnosed with whiplash, there are a number of different solutions to help treat and/or alleviate your symptoms. If you’ve visited a family doctor, it’s likely that one or more of the following will be recommended:

  • Ice, applied every 2-3 hours for 15 minutes the week following your diagnosis will help lessen inflammation, pain and swelling
  • Neck stabilization, a neck brace may be used to help stabilize your movements and limit excessive movement/motion
  • Painkillers, (such as Ibuprofen or naproxen) may be prescribed to treat the pain you’re experiencing, however it’s important to recognize that, though medication may help provide relief from the pain, it will not actually treat your symptoms or injury

It’s also likely that a family doctor will refer you to or recommend you see a chiropractor. A chiropractor will work to treat your symptoms by:

  • A chiropractic adjustment (also referred to as spinal manipulation), this simple treatment can help regain mobility and alleviate pain by gently manipulating the joints affected back to their desired alignment
  • Muscle relaxation and stimulation, a stretching of your muscles coupled with finger pressure techniques can be used to relax your muscles and relieve tension which can remedy pain
  • Therapeutic exercises, a series of exercises/stretches catered to your individual body and specific injury can help improve mobility and range of motion limited by whiplash

If left untreated, whiplash can develop into chronic pain characterized by repeated headaches, lower back pain, loss of movement, chronic muscle tension and lifelong discomfort. A simple appointment with your family doctor or chiropractor can save you, not only severe pain, but large amounts of time and money in the future. If you think that an injury or accident you’ve been involved in has caused you to suffer from whiplash, talk to your family doctor or chiropractor and they will help you figure out how to best treat your symptoms.

Providing expert chiropractic care for Whiplash, we have helped many patients regain their strength and live a healthy, pain-free life. Contact HealthFirst Spine & Wellness today to request a free consultation.