Accidents can leave you devastated, shaken, and scared. It’s not uncommon for people to walk away from an accident feeling completely fine—only to realize they’ve suffered injuries that impact them hours, days, or even weeks later. This is because some vehicle injuries—like whiplash—aren’t immediately noticeable.
Whiplash occurs when the neck muscles suffer a strain and stretch due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth, or side-to-side movement of your neck. Although whiplash is often caused by road traffic accidents, it can also result from sports-related collisions, physical abuse or assault, falls, and other types of trauma. If left untreated or ignored, whiplash can cause permanent damage to neck ligaments, tendons, and muscles leading to long-term suffering.
According to James McKiernan Law, a team of San Luis Obispo accident lawyers, whiplash can occur even in minor car accidents and low-speed collisions. Therefore, it’s best to watch out for signs. Here are five common signs to keep an eye out for:
1. Neck Pain and Stiffness
Pain in the neck is typically a sign that you have whiplash. In most cases, you may not experience this pain until at least 24 hours after the accident. You may also notice stiffness and soreness around your shoulders, neck, or head. Whether you’re experiencing the pain only when you turn your neck or at all times, it’s a sure sign you need to see your doctor.
Having a headache after a car accident can signal serious problems like a neck injury, a concussion, and blood clots in the brain. It’s therefore important that you see your doctor for proper diagnosis. If the pain you’re experiencing originates from the bottom of the skull, you may have a whiplash headache.
3. Pain in Your Shoulders and Upper Back
If you start experiencing pain in your shoulders and upper back days after a car accident, it may be a sign that your neck is injured due to whiplash. Ignoring this pain can cause debilitating pain; seek treatment immediately when you notice these symptoms.
4. Fatigue, Sleeplessness, and Numbness
Whiplash can occasionally cause fatigue and a lack of sensation or tingling in your fingers and arms. Interrupted sleep and irritability may be a giveaway that you’re experiencing whiplash as well.
5. It Hurts to Swallow or Chew
The hyperextension of neck ligaments and tendons following an accident can cause your jaw to misalign and damage the soft tissues surrounding the neck. As a result, you may have difficulty chewing, yawning, or even speaking.
How is Whiplash Treated?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or suspect you’ve suffered a whiplash injury following an accident, you may need treatment. The earlier you seek treatment, the less chance you have of your whiplash developing into serious medical problems. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and OTC pain medication. Other treatment options include:
1. Physical Therapy
In addition to medication, a treatment program run by a physical therapist can help reduce pain and relieve stress, thereby improving your neck’s flexibility and strength. Physical therapy is often recommended when a person is recovering from whiplash injury, is experiencing unspecified chronic pain in the neck, or recovering from neck surgery. The duration of the treatment plan as well as the specific physical therapy treatment methods used varies from one person to the other. The goal of physical therapy for whiplash is to:
- Improve neck flexibility and range of motion
- Reduce neck pain and stiffness
- Relieve inflammation caused by whiplash
- Strengthen the neck
- Restore proper function and movement of the neck tissues
2. Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is one of the best treatment options for whiplash. The appropriate chiropractic treatment for whiplash is unique to each injury since each individual case is different. Usually, a professional chiropractor will evaluate your neck and examine the entire spine to identify areas of soft tissue injury, muscle spasm, and restricted joint motion before determining specific chiropractic treatments. Common chiropractic treatments for whiplash include:
- Muscle stimulation and/or relaxation
- Spinal manipulation for whiplash
- Specific trigger point therapy
- Various exercises
- Therapeutic massage
- Interferential electrical stimulation
- Soft tissue therapies
- Ergonomic and lifestyle changes
Chiropractors are skilled in performing a variety of neurologic, orthopedic, and other common physical examination procedures. In addition, they are trained to examine the tendons, muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints of the head, neck, spine, and other body parts with the purpose of identifying any defects, misalignment, or other problems.
3. Natural Remedies
There are several natural remedies that can help you manage symptoms of whiplash from home, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek medical treatment. In fact, home remedies should just supplement the care you’re already receiving and support your healing process. Here are some of the natural remedies you can use:
- Ice/Heat Therapy: Applying ice to your shoulders and neck immediately after a car accident can help reduce swelling and limit inflammation. This will address any pain and discomfort you might be experiencing. After the first 48 hours, go ahead and apply heat to improve blood flow and loosen your neck muscles.
- Essential Oils: Essential oils such as peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and helichrysum are said to help relax muscles, limit inflammation, and speed the healing process. Note that you’re supposed to apply them directly to your skin or diffuse them into the air.
- CBD Oil or Cream: CBD oil is said to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve pain, encourage healthy blood flow, and reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Be gentle but firm when applying the cream to your neck and shoulders.
- Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can help encourage blood flow to the damaged neck tissues, relax the muscles, and prevent spasms. If you’re dizzy, irritable, and experiencing nausea because of whiplash, ginger can help reduce those symptoms.
Article Submitted By Community Writer