Annually, over 2 million people in the United States suffer from whiplash. Characterized by strain in the neck, this injury “occurs when the head suddenly snaps forward, then backward,” explains the Rush University Medical Center, “in a whip-like motion that overstretches the joints, muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back.”
Here are five facts to better understand this common form of neck pain:
Fact #1 – Whiplash doesn’t only happen in cars.
Typically whiplash is experienced in a car crash. However, automobiles are not a necessary component, says Dr. Vincent Traynelis of Rush University. The condition can also arise during competitive sports or a fall, for instance.
Fact #2 – Force can be minimal.
It may seem that this neck injury would only arise with substantial force, but that’s not the case. In fact, participants in car accidents may have symptoms of whiplash even if they were going less than 10 mph at impact, especially if they weren’t wearing their seat belts.
Fact #3 – Whiplash becomes likelier as we get older.
Seniors are more likely to suffer from severe whiplash than youths. As we age, our mobility and range of motion decreases; we grow weaker; and our muscles and discs become less flexible and adaptive. Severity of neck injury rises with age because our bodies are less resilient and we more commonly have existing pain conditions.
Fact #4 – Symptoms should not be ignored.
Usually when someone experiences whiplash, they feel immediate neck pain. However, the onset of pain may not occur until the next day or even the next week.
“Neck pain following even minor mishaps should be evaluated at your doctor’s office or the emergency room,” Traynelis argues. He says that medical imaging is especially critical to determine if fractures or dislocations are present.
Typically, this type of pain goes away by itself. However, if it does not resolve quickly or if other symptoms arise – such as fatigue or headaches – make a medical appointment.
Fact #5 – With whiplash, inactivity is your enemy.
People are often hesitant to continue with everyday activities following whiplash. However, prolonged periods of rest can lead to stiffness, muscular atrophy, and the development of chronic pain.
How a healthcare practice can help
Pain management specialists will help you gauge how much you need to rest and when it makes sense to resume your regular daily life. Physical therapy and other treatment methods can reduce your pain and rehabilitate your muscles.
With 5 stars on Google, Weston Medical is centrally focused on patient care, expediting your recovery from whiplash. Make an appointment today.