Every year, more than one million Americans deal with whiplash.
Do you suspect that you have whiplash? Do you think it’s the cause of your neck pain, headaches, or other symptoms? If so, it’s important to seek care from a doctor right away.
If you don’t know for sure whether or not whiplash is troubling you, keep reading. Explained below are 10 of the most common associated symptoms of whiplash, along with information on what to do if you’re experiencing any of them.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury. It occurs as the result of the neck moving in a forceful and rapid back-and-forth motion.
Often, whiplash happens when someone is involved in a car accident. It can be caused by other forms of trauma, though, such as a sports accident or even physical abuse.
Some physicians refer to whiplash as a neck sprain or strain. Whatever you call it, it can lead to serious problems, including chronic pain or disability, if it’s left untreated.
To get whiplash treated, you first need to understand its symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with whiplash that you might notice:
1. Neck Pain
Often, pain is the first symptom associated with whiplash that people experience. When your head gets rocked back and forth with a great amount of force, it’s not surprising that your neck would hurt afterward.
The pain may come on immediately, or it may show up a day or so later. It could be sharp and stabbing or more dull and achy.
2. Neck Stiffness
Neck stiffness is common, too. This has to do, in part, with the increased inflammation that may occur after your injury.
Inflammation is your body’s way of trying to protect you after you’ve been hurt, but it can still lead to stiffness and difficulty moving your neck through a full range of motion.
Many people report feeling dizzy after they’ve been in an accident that causes whiplash. They might have dizziness and vertigo only when they stand up suddenly, or it could be a persistent issue that affects them regardless of what they’re doing.
4. Blurred Vision
In some situations, the severity of the trauma that causes whiplash can be so intense that it causes blurred vision and other vision issues (seeing flashing lights, for example).
Blurred vision may occur as a result of nerve damage from the accident. It could also be a sign that you’ve sustained a concussion.
It’s common to feel fatigued when experiencing whiplash as well.
The fatigue could be a side effect of a concussion or other injury that accompanies the whiplash. It can also be attributed to the stress one often has to deal with after being involved in a traumatic event.
6. Difficulty Focusing
After dealing with an accident that involves trauma to the head, many people also have difficulty focusing at work or school. This may because their pain is a distraction, or they may be too fatigued to give their responsibilities their full attention.
7. Ringing in the Ears
In some cases, you might notice a ringing or a buzzing sound in your ears.
Known as tinnitus, this issue can accompany whiplash, especially if there is damage to the nerves or blood vessels, or if the jaw gets injured. Your tinnitus could be intermittent or constant.
8. Sleep Difficulties
Many people report sleep difficulties when they’ve experienced whiplash. They may have trouble falling asleep, due to pain, stress, or other side effects of their injury.
They may also find that they need to sleep much longer than they once did to help their bodies heal. This is especially common among people who have had severe trauma and are dealing with a concussion.
9. Shoulder Pain and/or Headaches
Sometimes, the pain in a person’s neck extends above or below as well. They may notice severe shoulder pain, for example, or tension headaches.
This pain, like the neck pain, could be sharp and stabbing or dull, achy, and constant.
10. Weakness, Numbness, and/or Tingling in the Arms
In cases of severe whiplash, you might have weakness, numbness, or a tingling feeling in your arms.
This is a serious issue and could be an indicator of nerve damage. It’s recommended that you seek out a doctor’s care right away if you start to notice any of these symptoms after your accident.
What to Do About Whiplash
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, there’s a good chance whiplash is causing, or at least contributing to, your neck pain.
If you do have whiplash, there are a few steps you can take to remedy it, including the following:
Many physicians will prescribe painkillers to reduce inflammation and discomfort when you’re having whiplash symptoms. They may recommend over-the-counter drugs like NSAIDs or, in some extreme cases, stronger prescription painkillers.
Working with a physical therapist can help you to restore range of motion to your neck and reduce any pain you’re having. They’ll often teach you specific exercises you can do at home to speed up your recovery.
Getting regular massages can be beneficial as well. Massage helps to loosen tighten muscles and reduce inflammation. It’s also a great way to relax after being involved in a stressful or traumatic situation.
You also shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of a chiropractor and their expertise when it comes to relieving the symptoms of whiplash.
Chiropractors can help to realign the spine after you’ve had trauma and improve your range of motion. They do this without relying on any traditional painkillers (prescription or over-the-counter) as well.
Get Help for Whiplash Today
Now that you know more about whiplash and its associated symptoms, do you think you might be dealing with it? If you think you are, follow the steps outlined above to ensure you get the help you need.
Do you want to learn more about handling whiplash, neck pain, or other injuries? If so, visit the Health and Fitness section of our site today. You’ll find lots of other helpful and informative articles there.