Whiplash: causes, symptoms, and complications

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Whiplash is a neck injury resulting from a powerful, fast back-and-forth neck movement. The name and cause of the injury resemble the cracking of a whip. Also called strain, whiplash is common among athletes and professional sportsmen. Some cases may get better after a short period, while others may develop into chronic pain.

What are the causes of whiplash?

Whiplash occurs when one’s head is jerked forcefully and quickly in a back and forth movement, resulting in injury. The injury may be as a result of dislocated disks between the bones or injured spine bones, neck ligaments, nerves, muscles or any other neck tissues.

Various scenarios increase your chances of suffering from whiplash. These are:

• Physical assaults – Getting punched or being shaken with force can result in neck strain. Whiplash is among the injuries usually witnessed in shaken baby syndrome.
• Amateur and professional contact sports – tackles in football, rugby, and other sport-related collisions can easily cause whiplash.
• Vehicle accidents – rear-end crashes during auto accidents are also another leading cause of whiplash.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop in less than 24 hours. These are:
Stiffness and severe neck pain
Fatigue
Increased pain with every inch the neck moves
Headaches that start from the base of the skull
Pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms
Numbness in the arms
Dizziness

There are also other rare symptoms depicted by other whiplash patients. These include depression, irritability, blurred vision, sleep disturbances, non-stop ringing in the ears, lost memory and difficulty concentrating.

With the quality of whiplash treatment in Wales, most patients suffering from whiplash have higher chances of feeling better after a few weeks. However, complications may arise resulting in prolonged pain extending for years.

Complications

It is difficult to predict with certainty how long a neck strain injury may take to heal. The chance of neck strain injuries developing into chronic is higher if the first symptoms (headaches, severe neck pain, and pain that is felt through the arms) were intense and developed quickly.

There are also other risk factors that may result in life-threatening neck strain. These include; older age, having experienced whiplash before and existing neck or low back pain.

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