Whiplash has many names: hyperextension injury, soft tissue cervical hypertension injury, cervical sprain, acceleration flexion-extension neck injury, and cervical strain. To most of us, it is just “whiplash.” Whiplash occurs most often in a car accident, when the soft tissue in the neck is injured.
Although whiplash is very common in car accidents, it also tends to be frequently overlooked and underestimated. Often, this is because victims assume that the symptoms of whiplash are general aches and pains rather than a condition that needs treatment. Even in a car that is going only 15 miles per hour when an crash takes place, whiplash can occur.
There are many symptoms that can indicate whiplash. People who have whiplash often report pain and swelling in the neck area. There might be tenderness in the area along the back of the neck as well. In serious cases, patients may experience neck muscle spasms or severe headaches.
If you have been in a car accident and you exhibit any symptoms – especially any symptoms in the neck or head area – you need to see a doctor right away. Some whiplash symptoms are very similar to brain injury symptoms and you want to get that ruled out right away. Left untreated, whiplash symptoms can persist for a long time, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment right away after your injury.
If you have been in a serious car accident, emergency personnel may rush you to an emergency room. Generally, you will be strapped onto a long board and a cervical collar will be placed around you to limit movement until a doctor can examine you for serious injury. If you have had a minor accident not involving an emergency room visit, be sure to see your doctor soon after your accident for a full physical check-up. Report any symptoms you have so that you can get an accurate diagnosis.
If you have whiplash, your doctor may suggest that your apply ice packs to your neck for 20 minutes at a time. You may also get pain medication if you are in discomfort. If the pain persists or you develop new symptoms, return to your doctor at once. If you have whiplash, you may have injured your neck further inadvertently and you may need additional care.