Whiplash symptoms – what are they? Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe a range of neck injuries. These injuries are caused by a distortion of the neck due to a sudden application of force or an abnormal movement causing the neck to move outside its normal range of motion.
Most whiplash injuries are related to motor vehicle accidents. Whiplash injuries are commonly sustained
when a vehicle has been hit in the rear. The severity of the neck injury may not always be associated to the velocity of the cars or to the damage to the cars involved in the accident. Whiplash can occur to passengers even if the car is going as slow as 15 miles per hour. And since the seatbelt doesn’t restrain the neck, passengers can sustain whiplash even if they're
wearing seatbelts. Whiplash injuries are the most common injuries covered by car insurance.
Of course there are also other ways to get a whiplash injury including falling from bicycles and horses. Whiplash can also be caused by injuries related to sports. Prolonged strain involving the neck and repetitive motion injuries are also common causes.
Whiplash injuries are mostly limited to the spinal cord and the most common areas affected are the neck and the middle of the spine.
Aside from neck pain, whiplash symptoms include back pains and referred pain to the shoulders. Redness and swelling of the neck may also appear. Sensory disturbances can also occur and can be manifested by pain, similar to the sensation being pricked (pins and needles), shooting to the arms and legs. Headache and muscle spasms in the back or side of the neck are also common symptoms.
Signs and symptoms involving a whiplash injury may appear immediately after the accident but sometimes they appear hours or days after the injury. It is important to note that the sooner the signs and symptoms appear, the greater the chance is of serious neck damage.
According to the Quebec Tack Force, whiplash injuries are categorized into five levels. Injuries categorized into Grade 0 are those wherein no pain, stiffness or any physical signs are noticed. Injuries where there are complaints of neck pain, stiffness and/or tenderness but no physical signs are noted buy the examining physician are categorized as Grade 1. Grade 2 injuries are those wherein there are complaints of neck pain as well as findings of decreased range of motion and tenderness of the neck by the examining physician. Grade 3 injuries include those with neck complaints and signs of neurological damage including sensory deficits and diminished deep tendon reflexes. Injuries where there are fractures, dislocation and/or spinal injury involved are categorized as Grade 4.
Whiplash injuries are diagnosed through head and neck examinations. Getting a patient’s history is also an important part of diagnosis. X-rays and taken to rule out fractures. Sometimes, magnetic resonance imaging is also ordered to rule out the possibility of other injuries.
Normally, whiplash symptoms only last for a few days. However, there are instances wherein a whiplash injury had caused severe disability. The disability is usually caused by long-term restricted head and/or cervical spine movements which is sometimes associated with pain. For better management of symptoms and a better prognosis, always consult a physician after incurring an injury, even for those which you think are minor ones.
If you think you have whiplash symptoms get properly qualified medical advice quickly.
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