What is Whiplash?

Whiplash neck pain, as the name suggests (cracking of the whip) is a neck injury caused due to forceful rapid to and fro movement of the neck. It can take the form of a neck sprain or strain and it also includes other types of injuries mainly caused by car accidents. However, it is not limited to unforeseen accidents, and can also be seen in the case of sports accidents, trauma, fall from a height and even physical abuse. For whiplash injuries, recovery can take different paths. People with chronic neck pain may have further complications with whiplash and may need surgical intervention. However, people with no pre-existing health conditions have an easier route forward if they opt for physiotherapy for neck pain and pain medications. 

Symptoms of Whiplash

What does Whiplash feel like? Some people may feel this pain but may be unable to identify it. Before chalking out treatment plans, it is imperative to correctly identify symptoms to get to the root of the cause.
Here are some symptoms that are mostly presented during Whiplash: 

The neck has a rich supply of motor and sensory nerve endings that help communicate with the rest of the body. When that area is affected, there is an impediment to this connection causing numbness and tingling in the arms. This also causes tenderness and pain in the shoulder and upper arms. 

Due to the inability to move and work as usual, you may be feeling fatigued and tired due to the pain. 

Whiplash causes significant neck stiffness and neck pain that starts interfering with your sleep and serves as a roadblock to performing day-to-day tasks, like sitting upright or even looking up. 

Every time you try to move your neck, the pain starts aggravating, causing you to stay in one position for a prolonged period of time. 

You lose a considerable range of motion in the neck. You are no longer able to move, look sideways or even rotate your neck without feeling discomfort. 

Constant or recurring headaches originate at the base of the skull, closer to your affected area. 

Some people with whiplash have also reported bouts of blurred vision during the time they were affected by this injury. 

Tinnitus or ringing in the ears also co-exists with neck pain. 

Due to the pain, it is sometimes difficult to concentrate on your tasks.

Also Read: Physiotherapy Exercises to Combat Neck Pain in Elderly

Causes of Whiplash

Whiplash, as mentioned earlier, is typically a result of when the head is rapidly and forcefully thrown in a front and backward motion. This sudden impact seriously affects and injures the bones in the spine, the nerves and muscles near the neck, and even the disks between the bones and ligaments.
Here are some typical causes behind whiplash injuries

  • Car accidents are mostly the reason behind whiplash neck pain. Due to rear end or head on collisions, the body is forced to move in a rapid front and backward motion causing serious injury in the muscles near the neck. 
  • If you have recently been in a physical altercation, or have been physically assaulted or abused, then it might be a cause behind your whiplash syndrome. If you are repeatedly punched or shaken (also known as the shaken baby syndrome) the muscles in the neck get injured causing whiplash neck pain. 
  • Sports like rugby, football etc include physical and intense head on collisions that can be a reason behind whiplash. 
  • Some people with whiplash feel better with a speedy recovery including pain medications and physical therapy, however some people note aggravated symptoms like severe neck pain, absolutely zero or reduced range of motion, pain spreading to the arms etc. This is due to the pre-existing health conditions like chronic neck pain, spondyltis and frozen shoulder. People who are older also have worse presentations of whiplash.

Head over to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform that uses 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately predict posture and movements to give accurate treatment plans and has a collection of exercises and posture correction techniques to help you with prevention and pain management.
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