What is whiplash?
Whiplash, also known as neck strain, is caused by a sudden and rapid movement, which causes the head to jerk forwards, backwards or sideways. Usually associated with car accidents, whiplash is a strong force, which stretches and tears the muscles and tendons in your neck. A whiplash injury doesn’t necessarily have to result from a car accident as it can also result from physical abuse or assault, for example if you are punched or shaken and contact sports., such as football tackles.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- neck pain and tenderness
- neck stiffness
- muscle spasms
- pain when moving your head to look over each shoulder
There are also less common symptoms, which include dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration and pins and needles in your arms and hands.
You may not notice any of the above symptoms right away as they can sometimes take several hours to develop. You may find that your symptoms can feel worse for a day or two after your neck injury but this will usually improve by itself after a couple of weeks. However, for some, the injure may continue to get worse and you may wish to think about seeking treatment.
Treatments for whiplash
Whiplash will usually get better on its own, but it’s difficult to predict how each person will recover and how quickly. If you do find that your whiplash is not improving on its own then you may need some basic treatment.
It should be noted that there is no single treatment for whiplash that has been scientifically proven as an effective pain relief. However, medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen, along with gentle exercises are all considered to be helpful for those suffering. It is also advised that you should try and resume normal activities as soon as possible, to help encourage early movement rather than immobilization.
If you’re still in severe pain after having tried the above treatments, then you may need to be referred for specialist treatment, which could include physiotherapy who can provide further advice on exercise and recovery.