Whiplash is essentially an injury due to forceful, rapid, back and forth movement of the neck. Whiplash is most often a direct result of a car accident which initiates this harsh movement.
The effects of a whiplash injury can be long lasting. That’s why it’s important to visit AICA Ortho and Spine for a diagnosis and care for neck pain due to whiplash after a car accident.
Your neck’s greatest feature is its mobility. This very feature makes it more unstable and susceptible to injury.
In a rear end collision there are four phases of whiplash. Each phase represents different forces exerted on your neck. These four phases all happen in half a second. These sudden forces can damage the vertebrae, muscles, and tendons of your neck.
There are many directions that your neck can get whipped around in a car accident. Every type of accident whether rear end, front end, or side impact, can stretch or tear the many muscles or tendons in your neck.
You’ve probably heard the term “pulled muscle.” A pulled muscle is actually a tear of the tendon that connects muscle to bones in your neck. There are three levels of muscle/tendon pain:
Muscle Tweak. A muscle tweak is a muscle that is in pain from being tight and in a spasm. It is not torn, but instead just stuck in a spasm. Rest and time will usually alleviate a muscle tweak.
Pulled Muscle. A pulled muscle is a tear of a connecting tendon that is less than 5 percent of the width. Although they feel similar to a tweak, the pain of a pulled muscle lasts much longer.
Muscle Tear. A torn muscle happens when the tear of the muscle’s connecting tendon is bigger than 5 percent of the width of the tendon. A muscle tear is usually completely debilitating.
Knowing how bad the tear is will determine steps for treatment, so if you think you have whiplash, it’s important to have it checked out. Pulled muscles will heal on their own but the healing process can be expedited with physical therapy. Torn muscles, on the other hand can be unbearable in the long term and should be assessed and treated as soon as possible.
There are specific things to look for if you are worried about whiplash after a car accident. Neck pain, stiffness, and headaches are all signs of whiplash. Decreased range of motion with muscles that feel tight or knotted are telltale signs as well. If looking over your shoulder causes pain, or you have a headache that radiates from the base of your skull towards the forehead it’s best to get it checked out by a medical professional.
Don’t think that just because the pain started a couple of days after the accident that your pain isn’t from whiplash due to the accident. Symptoms of whiplash commonly take hours or days to manifest themselves.
In the best case scenario, the effects of whiplash will subside in a couple of days. In other cases, healing may take months. Ice and painkillers may foster healing and reduce pain. A neck brace can stabilize your neck as it heals.
However, sometimes these steps are not enough.
The reality is that in many car accident scenarios whiplash can take a chronic turn. It can be hard to determine what effects of whiplash will heal and which will be chronic. That’s why it’s especially important to have an experienced medical team working on your behalf to help treat your car accident injuries.
Whiplash is not as straightforward to fix as a broken bone and is not as easy to validate with just a simple x-ray. This makes treatment and diagnosis of whiplash much more complicated. In some cases, even seemingly unrelated pain can stem from whiplash. For example, instances of lower back pain can result from your spine being compressed during whiplash.
Don’t hesitate to seek medical care if you think you are experience the symptoms of whiplash. The experts at AICA Ortho and Spine will take a comprehensive look at all possible injury areas. This involves the use of state-of-the-art diagnostics such as MRI’s and CT scans to ensure that we see the exact location and extent of your injuries.
Great care is taken by the medical team at AICA Ortho and Spine to make sure that you are diagnosed properly and your treatment is tailored exactly for your situation. Our orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and chiropractic team all work together to help you get on the road to recovery. Contact us today at 404-855-2141 for a consultation.