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Whiplash

Overview

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck. It is also called neck sprain or neck strain. It is typified by symptoms that transpire following damage to the neck, generally because of sudden extension and flexion. The disorder normally happens due to an automobile accident and may include injury to inter vertebral joints, discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. Symptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury or may be delayed for several days.


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Causes

The most recurrent cause of whiplash is a car accident. The speed of the cars involved in the accident or the amount of physical damage to the car has no correlation; speed as low as 15 miles per hour can cause whiplash whether the person is wearing a seat belt or not.

Other common causes of whiplash include contact sport injuries and blows to the head from a falling object or being assaulted. Repetitive stress injuries or chronic strain involving the neck is also a rare cause. Child abuse; particularly the shaking of a child can also consequence in this injury as well as in more severe injuries to the child's brain or spinal cord.


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Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms may occur instantly or minutes to hours after the initial injury. The quicker the symptoms develop, the greater the likelihood of severe damage. The symptoms are:

  • Neck pain
  • Pain in either or both arms
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness, tingling, or loss of function in the arms or legs
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Prevention

It may be difficult to prevent accidents, but developments in automobile safety have reduced the risk of whiplash injury. With the increased use of seat belts and head restraining devices in automobiles, the condition has improved. Additional safety equipments like air bags in cars, also prevent from serious injuries.


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Treatments
Exercise and Heat Therapy Yoga & Meditation

Persons suffering from whiplash are initially given a soft cervical collar. This collar may need to be worn for 2 to 3 weeks.

Other treatments for individuals with whiplash may include the following:

  • Heat therapy to relieve muscle tension and pain
  • Pain medications such as analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Range of motion exercises and physical therapy
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