Whiplash and Why You Should Get Treated
Whiplash is a common occurrence during a car accident, even a “fender bender.” It is a type of neck strain that lives up to its name. During the accident, the head is whipped back and forth due to a sudden, violent impact.
The injury happens in the area of the cervical spine that connects the person’s skull to the middle of the spine. There are seven bones here which are supported by tendons, muscles and ligaments. When the patient’s head is jolted back and forth during an auto injury or other mishap, these tissues are strained.
A person who suffers from neck strain may feel little or no pain at first. Then, over the next 12 to 72 hours the pain worsens. The neck may grow weak, and the person may hear a crackling sound whenever they try move it. They may have a headache and feel pain and stiffness in their shoulder or neck. Other symptoms are fatigue, blurry eyesight and a ringing in the ears. Pain and tingling that run from the shoulder and down the arm may indicate that one of the neck vertebra has been damaged. To find out, the doctor may use an imaging techniques such as a MRI, CT scan or X-ray. They can also use myelography, an imaging test that uses a contrast medium. This tells them how severe the sprain is and whether the person has suffered another injury such as damage to the spinal cord.
How to Treat Neck Strain
A person who thinks they’ve injured their neck in a car accident should take care to not move their neck and see a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose their problem. After that, they might be instructed to rest for about a day after their auto injury, and apply heat and cold compresses to their neck. They can take over-the-counter or prescription drugs for the pain though some doctors may inject the area with a painkiller such as lidocaine. Some doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants and even have the patient wear a foam collar for no longer than three days. Many medical professionals believe that wearing a collar longer than that weakens the neck muscles. Other doctors may fit the patient with a neck brace.
What Happens If the Problem Isn’t Treated?
A person who has suffered a neck strain may feel that it’s not severe enough to visit a doctor over. However, if whiplash is untreated it may lead to chronic pain that can interfere with sleep. The person may not be able to move their neck as freely as they used to. What the person thinks is just a strain may not be a strain at all but a vertebral fracture. This can lead to serious consequences such as paralysis. A person who has suffered an injury to the neck should always see a doctor.
Whiplash is a common injury that doesn’t just happen to people in car accidents but to people who have a fall or who play rough contact sports such as football or rugby. Most people make a full recovery in about a month or so, but it’s important that the injury be seen to by a doctor.