Identifying the Symptoms of Whiplash: What to Look For

Neck injuries can occur in many different contexts—while playing contact sports, during a fall from a high place, or in a car accident. When the head is forced into an extreme, sudden jerk backward and forward, muscles and tendons in the neck can overstretch and tear. This occasionally results in an injury called whiplash.
In certain cases of whiplash, the patient may feel immediate pain or discomfort. In most cases, however, the patient does not know they are injured until hours (and sometimes up to a day) later.

Symptoms of whiplash may include:

Neck pain and stiffness
Whiplash can cause the neck to have a decreased range of motion. There can be a total loss of  movement in the neck or difficulty and pain when moving the neck up, down or side-to-side. To  some, it may feel like waking up on the wrong side of bed with a stiff neck.

Whiplash can cause internal jury, resulting in pain and swelling in the head. The resulting    headaches may radiate pain from the base of the skull to the forehead.

Shoulder pain or lower back pain
Supporting ligaments, muscles and discs may be strained or torn, impacting the shoulder and           back. This may also cause irritation to connecting nerves in the area.

Dizziness and difficulty with concentration or remembering
A severe head jerk can sometimes cause cranial damage as severe as traumatic brain injury and     concussion. Symptoms of head injury, like dizziness or confusion need to be taken seriously and     any patient displaying these should be taken to an emergency medical facility as soon as       possible.

Difficulty sleeping
Sufferers of whiplash may experience pain while at rest. A doctor may order a cervical collar to       help immobilize the neck, enabling the patient to sleep without pain. This solution is a     temporary one, however, as collars should not be worn for extended periods of time.

Doctors will often prescribe painkillers and mild muscle relaxants to treat cases of whiplash. It is also advisable to apply an ice or heat pack to the area to ease discomfort during the first few days after the injury occurs. The recovery process may be helped along with physical therapy, when recommended by a doctor.

Depending on the severity of whiplash, recovery can take anywhere from weeks to months. In severe cases of whiplash, the patient may experience chronic pain due to joint, disc, or ligament damage. Occasional application of heat and ice packs (alternate the two every half hour), refraining from strenuous tasks, and mild over-the-counter painkillers should alleviate most discomfort.

Informational Credit to Brunt & Hood LLC