If you’ve been in a car accident, you’re likely familiar with sudden – or quickly developing – neck strain. This type of neck strain, known as whiplash, is caused by any blunt impact that causes your head to instantly jerk (or “whip”) backward and forward.
It happens so quickly that you may not even realize it happened. The sudden force of the jerking motion causes the muscles and tendons in your neck to stretch and slightly tear.
In addition to car accidents, neck strain can be caused by playing contact sports, playing on a playground, turning your head too quickly, or sleeping in an awkward position. It can happen to people of all ages.
A neck strain is caused by damage to the muscle or a tendon, which is the soft tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. A neck sprain is the result of a torn ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones to each other.
The differences between a sprain and a strain is typically unnoticeable to the average person because the causes, symptoms, and treatment of neck sprains and neck strains are often the same.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Whiplash can cause discomfort and pain in the head and neck area, but it can also cause other seemingly unrelated issues. Below is a list of symptoms that can be caused by whiplash:
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory issues
- Problems concentrating
- Decreased range of motion of the head and neck area
- Pain while moving or turning the head
- Hard or knotted neck muscles
- A tender feeling to the touch
- Discomfort while sleeping
How Is Whiplash Treated?
After checking other vitals and determining the severity of your injuries, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and/or muscle relaxers to help with the discomfort and pain. It can also help to apply a heat pad to loosen the muscles.
Physical therapists will treat whiplash by focusing on stretching and moving the neck in certain ways. Physical therapy can help you regain range of motion as quickly as possible.
Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery time can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks or longer.
Other Complications with Whiplash
After an incident that causes whiplash, some people do experience chronic pain or headaches for months, or even years. This can happen due to additional “hidden” injuries that went undiscovered and undiagnosed before, such as damaged neck joints, dislocated or injured discs in the spine, and injured ligaments.
Most people recover fairly well from whiplash, and few people experience any long-term complications. If more than 3 months have passed from the initial incident and you’re still feeling pain or a limited range of motion, be sure to talk to your doctor so they can evaluate your condition. You may have additional underlying complications that need further treatment.
Pain Doctors in Boca Raton
The friendly, professional, and experienced medical staff at Kamerlink Pain Institute can help you manage your chronic pain, whether it be from whiplash or another issue.
If you have any questions about our pain management services or want to schedule an appointment, contact our office in Boca Raton today at (561) 404-7667. We look forward to helping you get well so you can enjoy your active lifestyle again.