a.k.a. Hyperextension, cervical strain or cervical sprain.

Explanation and Causes:

Whiplash occurs when the soft tissue in the neck, such as cervical muscles, nerves, ligaments and intervertebral discs are damaged by a whipping motion of the neck or some sort of sudden jerking motion. This can be cause by an automobile accident with speeds as low as 15 miles per hour. Also, athletic accidents, being punched or hit in the face, falls, or repetitive stresses such as holding the phone with a shoulder can cause whiplash. Whiplash is the primary indication of shaken baby syndrome which constitutes child abuse.

Symptoms:

Damages to the head or neck are not injuries you ever want to take lightly. If ever in doubt about the injury might have received to these areas, please contact professional medical help as soon as possible.

Symptoms include:

  • Neck pain
  • Inflammation
  • Tenderness along the back of the neck
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty rotating head
  • Headache
  • Shooting pain from neck to shoulders and/or arms

Usually the sooner the symptoms start to manifest themselves, the more severe the damage is. Sometimes the symptoms will fade until many days later at which point they return with similar or increased intensity. When this happens, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

Diagnosis and Tests:

  • MRIX-RayCT scan

Treatment:

As soon after the accident as you can, you should see a physician. A physician will do a thorough medical exam and will ask detailed question about many parts of the body. If the accident was less severe you should start at home treatment as soon as possible while you can make an appointment with a physician.

These treatments include:

  • Ice on the neck for 30 min 3 or 4 times a day
  • Rest
  • If possible, wear a cervical collar while resting
  • Medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • After a while heating therapy
  • Progressive exercise meaning start small and work your way to more aggressive movements

Prevention:

  • Assure that headrests in the car are at the right height
  • Caution of youngsters sitting in front of airbags

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