Whiplash is often a synonym for neck strain but in most cases, it is a condition that appears after car accidents or any impact that would cause the head to uncontrollably jerk backward or forward. A sudden force tears and stretches neck tendons and muscles. Dealing with such an injury should be done as soon as possible since a failure to do this can lead to serious problems in the future.
According to Mike Morse Injury Law Firm Detroit Michigan, whiplash is one of the most common injuries appearing during car accidents. Also, professional athletes often experience this during competitions or training. With such widespread, it is easy to see why you need to know as much as possible about the condition.
The most common symptoms are:
- Decreased motion, pain, and tightness.
- Stiffness or pain when you move your head.
- Pain when you rock your head.
- Headaches (usually at the base of your skull)
In some cases, neck strain pain is clear and immediate. In other situations, it can even take days for the pain to appear. This is why doctors need to quickly examine you for a fast diagnosis. During diagnosis, a doctor will use texts like CT scans, X-rays, and more.
With time, most whiplash injuries will heal themselves. However, you should still do all you can to help your body recover. Some things that you can do are:
- Ice the neck – This reduces swelling and pain. Do this as soon as possible after the injury happened. You can ice your neck for a quarter of an hour every 4 hours for the next 2 to 3 days. Ice can be wrapped in a towel to prevent extra skin injury caused by coming into contact with the ice.
- Take painkillers – When the doctor recommends it, you can take pain medication. This usually includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like naproxen or ibuprofen. Just be aware of the side effects of such drugs. Discuss it with your doctor and whenever side effects appear, stop since you might need something else.
- Use neck support – You could use a collar or a neck brace if you need some extra support. Just remember that you should not use these for a long time. If you do, they will end up weakening neck muscles and you do not want that to happen.
- Use moist heat – Just do this only after using icing for a couple of days as a first treatment option. Heat should only be applied after swelling goes down. Wet, warm towels can easily be used or you can even take warm baths.
- Other treatments – The doctor might recommend other treatments, like massage or ultrasound.
Your recovery will largely depend on the seriousness of the injury you suffered. Usually, people recover after whiplash in just a couple of days. However, neck strains can end up taking weeks or even months to properly heal. The healing rate of the individual varies so it is impossible to adequately predict how long it will take for you. While the doctor can give you an estimate, even that is not 100% accurate in all cases.