Whiplash occurs when the neck is suddenly and forcibly bent backward and forward. This causes injury to the joints of the neck, known as the cervical vertebrae, and to the surrounding soft tissue. The most common causes of whiplash are motor vehicle crashes, especially when the vehicle is struck from the rear.
Whiplash generally causes: neck pain, usually in the back of the neck along either side of the spinepain with any motion of the necka stiff neckheadachenumbness or a tingling sensation in the upper body
Whiplash injuries usually happen to a person who is not wearing a seat belt when a motor vehicle is rear-ended. As a result of whiplash, the ligaments in the neck may be stretched or even torn. Sometimes fractures in the vertebrae may also occur.
Generally, wearing a seat belt to prevent sudden jerking of the head during a motor vehicle crash can prevent help to prevent this injury.
Whiplash is diagnosed with a complete physical examination and medical history, including details of the crash.
Time and gentle range of motion exercises are usually the best treatments for whiplash. The healthcare professional may also recommend: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen to help reduce the pain and swellinga cool compress applied to the necknarcotic medications for severe painmuscle relaxing medications for muscle spasmsphysical therapy, if symptoms persist
Side effects depend on the medications used, but may include drowsiness, stomach upset, or allergic reactions.
It may take from 2 to 4 weeks before the person regains full range of motion of the neck without pain. The individual may have recurrent headaches. Physical therapy may be needed to help keep the neck muscles strong and healthy.