What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is another name for neck strain. When a vehicle stops, jerks, or turns too suddenly due to a collision, the resulting impact can cause the neck to turn or jerk. This sudden force upon the neck and head can result in stretches, tears, and injuries to the muscles and tendons that line your neck.

Whiplash is often a painful injury that is difficult to ignore. Some symptoms may include:

  • Pain during head or neck movement
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Tightness or tenderness of the neck
  • Headaches, especially those at the base of the skull that may radiate up towards the forehead

Though known as a painful injury, symptoms do not always appear immediately. The stress of the situation can sometimes mask the pain from whiplash, causing you to feel that you have not been injured. Pain can sometimes appear hours or even days later. It’s important to seek medical treatment after a car accident right away, even if you feel fine.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

Your recovery time depends greatly on the severity of the injury. Minor whiplash will resolve itself within a few days, while more severe cases may take longer. Since everyone heals at their own rate, each patient’s experience will be unique.

Muscles and tendons can lose strength and tighten after injuries, which can result in long lasting pain or re-injury. When the acute symptoms of whiplash have passed, your doctor may recommend rehabilitation to ensure the muscles and tendons are strengthened and flexible again after the injury. Rehabilitation can include gentle stretching of the neck muscles to improve flexibility.

Chronic neck pain can be the result of a whiplash injury that was never able to heal fully, or that is repeatedly re-injured due to lack of complete rehabilitation. Take your recovery slowly and begin with physical activity only when advised by your doctor.

Whiplash Symptoms After a Car Accident

Depending on the severity of your injury, whiplash symptoms can vary in their intensity and pain level. If you or a loved one experience any of these common symptoms of whiplash following an auto accident, seek medical attention immediately.

The symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, commonly starting at the base of the skull
  • Pain or tenderness in shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

In some cases, patients experience more severe symptoms as a result of a whiplash injury to the neck which includes:

  • Blurry vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression

That being said, not everyone experiences the same symptoms. The problem with whiplash type injuries are that these types of injuries are not easy to tell just based on your symptoms.  You need a medical evaluation right away by a physician to help diagnose what is going on with your spine.

At Florida Physical Medicine, we offer same day or next day appointments, a patient-first mentality, and exceptional care by experienced doctors. Let our professionals diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate your auto accident injuries to help you recover quickly and completely.

Whiplash Treatment After an Auto Accident

When left untreated, whiplash and neck strain injuries can result in chronic pain and immobility. Schedule an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible after your auto accident to determine the right treatment plan for you.

Common treatments for whiplash include:

  • Icing the neck. This can help reduce the swelling and reduce pain.
  • Take painkillers if recommended by your doctor. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help with the pain and swelling, allowing you to rest and recover.
  • Neck brace or collar may help some patients. If you need additional support, a neck collar recommended by your doctor can allow your neck to heal without additional strain.
  • Other treatments like massage, or moist heat after a few days of icing the area, can also improve your ability to recover from your injuries.

For more serious cases, your medical provider may consider additional treatments such as therapy, epidural steroid injections, or radiofrequency ablation. If you are prescribed physical therapy to treat your whiplash, your physical therapist will develop a personalized exercise plan to improve your strength and range of motion gradually. Epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation are performed once the patient has completed a course of conservative care, but is still experiencing symptoms despite therapy and other means of treatment.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Whiplash?

Your doctor (or team of doctors) will develop a treatment plan that caters to your specific injury and your personal needs. Early diagnosis and treatment can really improve your long-range recovery from whiplash caused by an auto accident.

We at Florida Physical Medicine can diagnose and treat you right here with our amazing team of doctors who focus only on patients recovering from auto accidents.

Seeking Medical Attention for Whiplash After Car Accident

No matter the injury or severity of the accident, your road to recovery will be unique. Some neck injury symptoms resolve quickly, while others can become long-term problems. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your long-range recovery from whiplash caused by an auto accident.