Whiplash is the medical name for an injury to the neck that is created from a sudden jolt from front to back that creates a whip style movement. Whiplash is more often sustained in motor vehicle accidents; however, it can occur from a fall or sports/work related injury and so forth. The Whiplash injuries are normally due to the result of a sprain-strain to the neck, where the ligaments which provide support, protection and also limit the movement of the vertebrae are damaged. The most commonly injured joints are the facet joints which are located in the back portion of the spine. However, these are usually not the only injuries.
With more severe whiplash injuries tendons and muscles are strained and stretched, vertebral discs can be bulge or herniate, and the nerves may also suffer stretching and become irritated and inflamed. The most common symptoms that are felt with whiplash are stiffness and pain through the neck, generally found in the areas that have sustained damage. Most commonly pain will be in the front and back of the neck and turning the head will make the pain more severe. A headache is also a normal symptom of whiplash. Pain can also be found to extend through the upper part of the body.
In addition to the joint pain, some people experience dizziness, sickness, and even visual problems following a whiplash injury. These symptoms must not be ignored, and medical intervention should be sought if they do not resolve in a day or two. Whiplash symptoms are not always immediate and can take up to two days to appear.
Those suffering from whiplash need to stay active unless they have sustained an injury that requires immobilization. They may be worried but should move as much as possible. The doctor will more than likely prescribe some form of stretching exercises. These exercises are very important to aid recovery.
It is normal to use ice or heat to control the pain and reduce swelling after a whiplash injury. The injured party may also have electrical stimulation or ultrasound if necessary for short term relief. In the case of neck pain, spinal manipulation or spinal mobilization from a chiropractor can provide additional relief.