Whiplash is a very common neck injury resulting from sudden jerk to head or neck region. The cervical spine is put through lightening like quick motions causing our neck to be forced forward and backward, which causes whiplash. The most common cause of whiplash is car accident but there are other factor too leading to this injury. Some amusement rides like bungee jumping, rollercoaster, sports like football and more can also lead to whiplash but these are extremely rare. Any activity which applied acceleration and deceleration forces to our neck and spine results in whiplash. Medically whiplash is known as cervical acceleration deceleration syndrome or CAD.
In literal terms whiplash is a four step phenomenon our neck and spinal region experience:
The head and neck are at rest stage at first—-then an external impact occurs which is of very high degree—–this causes the neck to fall back or hyperextension—-then it results in the neck falling in front again or hyper-flexion.
What are the causes of whiplash injuries:
Most common whiplash causes are attributed to car accident impact injuries which stretch, force, pull and tear the muscles and tendons in our neck region. Neck strain is a very common problem for many athletes as their routine stretches and activities makes them more prone. Some of the common causes of whiplash include:
1- Moto vehicle accident:
Either the car was not moving or moving relatively slow and was hit head on by another fast moving vehicle which caused the person’s neck and spine region to be stuck badly. Most commonly the back or rear side collision causes this kind of injuries in the neck. Sudden jerk first triggers the neck forward then backwards thus causing whiplash
2- Physical abuse:
Physical assault also triggers whiplash in people. When someone punches or shakes other person badly that causes the neck or spine of the person jerked backwards and forwards thus resulting in whiplash. SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome is generally believed to be caused by sudden shaking of a baby which is almost like whiplash in adults.
Athletes are more prone to whiplash as their constant movement and rhythmic physical activity makes their neck and spine region vulnerable. And sometimes a sudden jerk or lift can cause whiplash in them
4- Football or basketball players:
Some sport activities like soccer and basketball may cause this sudden jerk on neck or spine. The ball may hit a persons head or neck region thus resulting in whiplash. Whiplash occurs as a result of the externally induced force or pressure for which the body may not be prepared, and that is so sudden even the reflexes cannot prevent the impact.
5- Repetitive stress of the neck:
Constant stress in the region of neck and strain causes the neck to be prone to whiplash. These externally induced stress factors are holding telephone or staying in the same position of the neck for long. These can also be caused by sudden changes of neck direction.
Symptoms of Whiplash:
While excruciating pain is the foremost symptoms of whiplash, there are other signs too:
- Tightness in neck and extreme pain
- Muscles of neck feel knotted and hard
- Stiffness when moving head to look over your shoulder
- Headaches from base of skull which come towards forehead
- Tenderness and dizziness
How to Treat Whiplash at Home:
While we strongly suggest seeing a sport surgeon or a rheumatologist, but there are some soothing remedies to treat whiplash at home. Just a casual attitude towards your body would not suffice to get rid of whiplash, rather you must understand the severity of the pain and see your healthcare provider quickly, if need be. Some home remedy for whiplash are:
Proceed with exercises which help in soothing and relieving the stress from neck or spinal region. Routine exercises can help in bringing the routine movement of neck post the whiplash injury. Stretching can help reducing the stiffness and further chiropractor suggested workouts can help in relieving pain
Using NSAID and oral anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Advil and others can help in alleviating the pain and also removing inflammations from neck region. Ointments which relieve pain must also be applied for they can also have miraculous effects in treating whiplash.
3- Rest properly:
Ample rest is required to treat whiplash at home. Just make sure you sleep at least 9-10 hours at night and take 2-3 power naps during the day. For the rest of the time keep your head and neck position at rest mostly for quick treatment. Do not proceed with any more impact causing activities, just stay relaxed until the neck stiffness reduces
4- Use soft foam collars:
Foam collar which are soft must be sued to support the neck and spinal region. This helps in reducing the impact caused by whiplash. These also hold the neck and spinal region stiff and keep them upright which is much needed for curing the whiplash injury
5- Use ice packs:
Ice packs help in reducing swelling and also a pain. Use them at the neck region a few times in the day. Use them for 2 to 3 days of injury, and rub for 20-25 minutes every 3-4 hours in a day for relief
6- Use hot pads:
Post 2-3 days of whiplash, you must now replace the ice packs with hot pads. Hot pads helps in relieving aching, heals faster and helps in reducing the stiffness of the neck. Use hot pads every hour for 10-15 minutes for much relief.
7- Use Firm Mattress and a Firm Pillow:
Use firm mattress and pillow to keep your position upright and reduce pain and inflammations from whiplash. The pillow must be in sync with natural curve of your body while sleeping, this will help in better treatment of whiplash
8- Keep Correct Posture:
The posture throughout the day must be maintained in a proper way. This will help in reducing chances of further severing the whiplash injury.
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