Whiplash is a generic term for when the neck is suddenly jolted in one direction and then another, creating a whip-like movement. Whiplash is most commonly seen with motor vehicle accidents, but it can also occur from falls, sports injuries, work injuries, and other incidents. The injuries cause a sprain/strain of the neck resulting in pain and stiffness. Turning the head often makes the pain and discomfort worse. Headache,
pain in the shoulders and arms, upper back, and upper chest may also be present.
How is whiplash treated?
1. Staying active
One of the most important aspects of whiplash management is for the patient to stay active, unless there is some serious injury that requires immobilization. Patients should not be afraid to move and be active, within reason. In addition, your doctor will often prescribe an exercise or stretching program. It is particularly important to follow this program as prescribed, so that you can achieve the best long-term benefits.
2. Chiropractic manipulation and other therapies
Ice and/or heat are often used to help control pain and reduce the muscle spasm that results from whiplash injuries. Other physical therapy modalities, such as electrical stimulation and/or ultrasound, may provide some short-term relief. They should not, however, replace an active-care program of exercise and stretching. Spinal manipulation and/or mobilization provided by your chiropractor can also give relief in many cases of neck pain.
Can whiplash be prevented?
Generally speaking, whiplash cannot be “prevented,” but there are some things that you can do while in a motor vehicle that may reduce the chances of a more severe injury. Always wear your seat belt, and ensure that the headrest in your vehicle is adjusted to the appropriate height so that your neck cannot extend over it.