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Whiplash is a general term used to describe a range of injuries to the soft tissues of the neck and cervical spine.

Whiplash is a general term used to describe a range of injuries to the soft tissues of the neck and cervical spine. Whiplash is most commonly caused by rear end car accidents. This type of impact can cause the heads of the front vehicle occupants to whip forward and then back suddenly and with tremendous force, causing the neck to move outside of its normal range of motion. A common misconception about whiplash is that the injury only occurs in serious high-speed collisions. The reality is, speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can create enough force to cause whiplash, and low speed rear end collisions are more likely to result in the injury.

 

Symptoms of Whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash are not always apparent immediately after an accident; it can take many days for any to appear. There is a wide variety of symptoms in whiplash cases, the most common being neck pain or stiffness and headache. Other symptoms a person with whiplash may experience include:

• shoulder pain
• back pain
• dizziness
• blurred vision
• sleep disturbances
• unusual sensations in arms
• fatigue
• trouble concentrating
• ringing in ears
• jaw pain
• muscle spasms
• decreased range of motion
• anxiety
• depression

 

Whiplash Treatment
Treatment plans for whiplash vary depending on a patient’s particular symptoms and the severity of the injury. Common treatments may include:

• use of ice packs
• pain medication
• range of motion exercises
• physical and/or occupational therapy

Use of a cervical collar is no longer recommended, as it may actually allow the muscles to atrophy and cause more severe injuries as well as increased recovery time.

 

What to do if You Suspect You May have Whiplash
Someone who is experiencing whiplash symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. While unlikely to cause death, whiplash is a condition that can be extremely serious and, if left untreated, can have long-term effects.