Auto accidents can impact your health and wellbeing in a variety of ways. One of these ways is whiplash, a common neck injury usually caused by rear-end accidents. The sensitivity and importance of the neck means that whiplash must be understood. Pretending that whiplash isn’t serious won’t make the condition go away. In fact, the symptoms and the pain often associated with whiplash can get worse if left untreated.
What is Whiplash?
According to Spine Universe, whiplash is an injury caused by a sudden motion of the neck – backward and forward from the impact of a rear-end accident. Usually, damage is limited to the soft tissue, such as the muscles and ligaments in the neck. But in some severe cases, a herniated disc in the neck or even broken bones can occur. The range of severity for whiplash means that one person may feel the damage immediately, while another may not have any symptoms for days or even weeks.
Potential symptoms of whiplash include:
- Tightness or spasms in the muscles of the neck or upper back
- Abnormal sensations such as tingling or burning
- Pain in nearby areas such as the upper back and shoulders
When paired with other injuries, the symptoms may be more complex, such as difficulty swallowing or chewing when the damaged area includes the esophagus and larynx.
Getting whiplash treated
You should see a doctor as soon as possible after an auto accident. Although symptoms may not be present immediately, a medical evaluation may reveal underlying damage that you may be unaware of. Various scans can search for bone fractures, herniated discs, or ligament injuries.
In the event that you do have whiplash, treatment options vary with the severity of the injury. Spine Universe notes that for minor injuries, the treatment may simply be to keep as active as possible until it heals. If the pain can’t be controlled, a soft neck brace may be in order, but it should only be used for a short period of time. Ice, heat, and medications can also be used to control pain and inflammation. Physical therapy may be necessary to restore range of motion, and pain that lasts longer than 6 weeks may require injections or other medical attention.
It’s critically important that you follow your doctor’s orders when recovering from a whiplash injury. But getting the medical care that you need – and paying for it – can be complicated. If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact us today so we can help you get the care you need and deserve.