The Many Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash, Explained

man holding neck because of pain

Neck pain is no light matter. 2.7% of people experience neck pain in their lives. Americans spend millions of dollars every year to treat and mitigate their pain, and thousands miss work.

One reason neck pain is so common and so hurtful is that there are many causes of neck pain. Whiplash is just one prevalent condition that can set off significant pain. Before you can get the help you need, you should know about the symptoms of whiplash.

What are the most common signs of whiplash? What causes the condition, and how do doctors diagnose it? How do you treat whiplash?

Know the answers to these questions and you might resolve your neck pain in no time. Here is your quick guide.

The Symptoms of Whiplash

Any person can experience whiplash. But people who have had whiplash, previous neck pain, or who are older are more likely to experience extreme symptoms.

Keep in mind that each case of whiplash is different, so not everyone will experience it in the same way. However, there are common symptoms that most people share.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is the most common and significant symptom of whiplash. The pain can occur anywhere in the neck, though most people feel it all throughout their neck.

Pain can feel tearing, throbbing, or burning. It may become worse when you lay down, turn your head, or stand up. You may feel momentary relief when you massage your neck, or the pain may become worse.

The pain may be very significant. You may struggle to think about anything besides your pain, and you may not sleep properly.

Pain in Other Parts of Your Body

60% of people with whiplash also experience a headache with their back pain. The headache may start at the base of the skull and spread to other parts of the head. The headache may get worse if you look at a bright object or turn your head around.

Other people experience shoulder pain. Their neck pain can radiate into their shoulders, or the shoulder pain may occur independently. The pain may feel like warmth or tenderness, which can make it hard to move the shoulders.

In rare cases, someone can feel pain in their upper back. It may feel like tingling or tearing. Pain in the lower back or legs rarely occurs with whiplash, and it may be a sign of another problem.

Muscle Stiffness

Most people with whiplash have muscle stiffness in their necks. If you lean forward or adjust your position in a chair, the stiffness may become intense.

Other people feel muscle stiffness in their arms, shoulders, and upper back. As with neck stiffness, the stiffness may become intense when you move your arms or shoulders. Even moving your fingers or shifting in your seat can cause the stiffness to resurface.

Less Common Symptoms

Some people develop concentration problems alongside other signs of whiplash. Their pain may distract them, or they may not focus for no apparent reason.

You can also experience a ringing in your ears or blurred vision. Even if you rub your eyes, you may find it hard to see or read properly.

Whiplash Treatment

As the name implies, whiplash occurs when someone’s neck moves like a whip. A car may hit you from behind, throwing your body forward. You may slip on a patch of ice, causing your neck to move back and forth.

Your neck contains tendons, muscles, and soft tissues that can tear or become damaged after a sudden movement. When these tissues become damaged, your nerves send signals to your brain indicating that you have a problem.

The symptoms of whiplash overlap with a lot of other conditions. Muscle strains, fatigue, and broken bones can create neck pain and concentration problems. You can also have whiplash alongside a concussion or a spinal cord injury.

In order to get a diagnosis, you need to visit your doctor. They can conduct a physical exam to determine what your pain and flexibility are like and if you have any other injuries.

If they think you have whiplash after a car accident, they can conduct a few tests. An MRI will help them see the soft tissues in your neck and determine if they have been damaged.

If you are diagnosed with whiplash, go home and get some rest. Try to avoid straining your neck and rest your head on a comfortable pillow.

Most people recover from whiplash within a few weeks and without extensive whiplash treatment. If your neck pain lasts for over two months and you cannot perform work, get help.

You should go to a doctor with a specialty in neck and back injuries. They can perform a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure, reinforcing your vertebrae with a bone graft or piece of hardware. This will help your spinal tissues reconnect and repair themselves while preventing further damage.

The Essentials of Whiplash

The symptoms of whiplash can be debilitating. You may experience constant tearing pain and muscle stiffness that makes it hard to move. The pain may occur in your neck, shoulders, and arms, even if you don’t think they were damaged.

Any sudden movement like a car accident can cause whiplash. You need to rest and monitor yourself for complications. You may need minor surgeries to mitigate pain and provide support for your neck.

Don’t hesitate to give neck and back professionals a call. New York City Spine serves New York and New Jersey residents. Contact us today.

At New York City Spine Surgery, our standard for excellent care means treating you as a whole person, and not just another spine disorder on a chart.

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