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Whiplash

Overview

  • Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.

  • Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. But whiplash can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse and other types of traumas, such as a fall. Whiplash may be called a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries.

  • Most people with whiplash get better within a few weeks by following a treatment plan that includes pain medication and exercise. However, some people have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications.

 

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop within days of the injury, and may include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness

  • Worsening of pain with neck movement

  • Loss of range of motion in the neck

  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull

  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms

  • Tingling or numbness in the arms

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

Some people also have:

  • Blurred vision

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Memory problems

  • Depression

When to see a doctor

  • See your doctor if you have any neck pain or other whiplash symptoms after a car accident, sports injury or other traumatic injury. It’s important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis and to rule out broken bones or other damage that can cause or worsen symptoms.

Causes

  • Whiplash typically occurs when your head is forcefully and quickly thrown backward and then forward. This motion can injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other tissues of the neck.

A whiplash injury may result from:

  • Auto accidents. Rear-end collisions are a major cause of whiplash.

  • Physical abuse or assault. Whiplash can occur if you are punched or shaken. It’s one of the injuries seen in shaken baby syndrome.

  • Contact sports. Football tackles and other sports-related collisions can sometimes cause whiplash.

Complications

  • Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks and don’t seem to have any lasting effects from the injury. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred.

  • It is difficult to predict how each person with whiplash may recover. In general, you may be more likely to have chronic pain if your first symptoms were intense, started rapidly and included:

  • Severe neck pain

  • More-limited range of motion

  • Pain that spread to the arms

The following risk factors have been linked to a worse outcome:

  • Having had whiplash before

  • Older age

  • Existing low back or neck pain

  • A high-speed injury

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask questions about the event and your symptoms. You also may be asked questions that help your doctor understand how severe your symptoms are and how often they occur. Your doctor will also want to know how well you can perform normal everyday tasks.

Examination

During the exam your doctor will need to touch and move your head, neck and arms. You will be asked to move and perform simple tasks so that your doctor can check the:

  • Range of motion in your neck and shoulders

  • Degree of motion that causes pain or an increase in pain

  • Tenderness in your neck, shoulders or back

  • Reflexes, strength and sensation in your limbs

Imaging tests

A whiplash injury isn’t apparent on imaging tests. But your doctor will likely order one or more imaging tests to rule out other conditions that could be making your neck pain worse. Imaging tests include:

  • X-rays. Fractures, dislocations or arthritis can be identified by X-rays of the neck taken from many angles.

  • Computerized tomography (CT). This special type of X-ray can produce cross-sectional images of bone and show possible bone damage.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging test uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed 3D images. In addition to bone injuries, MRIscans can detect some soft tissue injuries, such as damage to the spinal cord, disks or ligaments.

Our expert providers are experienced and skilled at treating whiplash and are your source for expert treatment of whiplash in Westminster and Denver Colorado. Not only are we the premier treatment for spine injuries and chiropractic in Westminster and Denver Colorado, but we also specialize in many other advanced treatment techniques such as shockwave, cold laser, graston technique, KT Taping, activator, instrument aided spinal alignments, drop table, toggle, in house rehab services, and on site digital xrays. We are your Premier destination for whiplash treatment in Westminster Colorado and Denver Colorado Chiropractor.