If you were recently in an accident and are experiencing neck pain, you may have whiplash. Each year, almost 2 million Americans are injured and suffer from whiplash.
You can get whiplash injuries from a variety of accidents including a car accident, a sports injury, a fall, or being punched or shaken
Whiplash, although not technically a medical term, is very real and can be very painful. It is called whiplash because, in an accident, your neck really can whip back and forth — first backward (hyperextension) and then forward (hyperflexion). Doctors call whiplash a neck sprain or strain, referring to injuries of the ligaments and muscles supporting the joints. Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of your neck and upper back that occurs when your muscles and ligaments get over-stretched from the force of an accident. Ironically, it is very easy to hurt your neck like this since your neck is designed to move in many directions and when you’re involved in an accident, unfortunately, it may do so!
The key symptom of whiplash is neck or upper back pain. The pain can start immediately or it can develop days or weeks after the accident. Some people have only mild pain, while others have severe debilitating pain and dysfunction.
If you have whiplash, you might feel neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, tightness or spasms of the neck or upper back muscles, or burning or tingling sensations in the neck, shoulder, arms, or hands.
Whiplash injuries can initially be mild, and you may not even know that you are injured. However, whiplash injuries can cause symptoms many years later, and can be associated with other problems such as osteoarthritis and premature disc degeneration.
Even if your neck pain is only mild, see a doctor as soon as possible. The good news is that most people with whiplash recover fully with time and the correct treatment.
If you have been in an accident and have pain, even if it is minor, consult a doctor with experience treating accident injuries. Our professional staff has over 20 years of experience in managing Personal Injury cases.
Author: Dr. Gary Robertson is a 1989 Palmer College of Chiropractic graduate. He has over 20 years of experience treating patients with accident injuries and has post-graduate training in Whiplash and Spinal Trauma, Spinal Biomechanics, and Spinal Rehabilitation. Dr. Robertson serves as the President of the Dade County Chiropractic Society.