Whiplash is an injury to the neck. It can involve the neck’s soft tissues including muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, intervertebral discs and even the nervous system tissues. In fact, in extreme cases, it may also trigger a painful, radiating pain in the arm.
This injury usually occurs during a rear-end collision car crash. This is because the sudden jolt of the Las Vegas car accident happens so quickly that you don’t have time to brace yourself. This leads to your head accelerating backwards and frontwards to sprain the ligaments which hold the bones together.
Women are especially vulnerable to this injury because of their slender necks. And the neck is generally vulnerable to the injury because of the head weight, the pronounced range of neck motion and the way the head is suspended on the neck.
Its symptoms may or not develop immediately. The most pronounced symptom is a back or neck pain which may at times be delayed by days, weeks and even months. Sometimes, different people experience one of these different but possible symptoms like loss of movement, dizziness, muscle spasms, headache, memory loss, and difficulty in concentration, chewing or hoarseness, difficulty while swallowing, a burning or tingling sensation in the shoulder, arm or hand with radiating pain.
While symptoms do help in its diagnosis, health care providers can diagnose the condition even when symptoms are not so significant by conducting a physical exam and through the patient’s history.
While x-rays do indicate if there are any changes in the neck curvature or contour, it’s better to undergo a MRI or CT scan if there is radiating pain in the arm as it gives a better assessment of the disk and nerve roots. However do consult a neuropsychologist if there is persistent memory loss or loss in concentration.
It is generally better to use non-surgical methods to treat the condition. Your medical doctor may advise a wait and watch approach with some medications like pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants. MDs may suggest physical therapy and if these methods don’t seem to help, referring a physiatrist may suggest using injection therapy.
A Las Vegas accident chiropractor will suggest treatment to include spinal manipulation, exercise training, soft tissue release techniques, mobilization, physical therapy modality use and activity modification training. In some cases, they may also suggest a mix of provider approaches as appropriate.
It is possible to prevent or at least reduce the severity of whiplash through the following methods:
- Using seatbelts especially during high speed collisions.
- Placing the car’s headrest as close and high to the head as possible to avoid any ramping over it. Ramping can be minimized by placing the seat back in a more vertical or upright direction.
- Not distracting yourself while driving like using the cell phone, dozing off, reading books (which is surprisingly rather common!), adjusting the radio and taking your eyes off the road.
- However it’s not proven that bracing yourself can help prevent or reduce whiplash as it happens too fast. You don’t have time to actually brace your neck muscles to prevent whiplash.