Whiplash. You’ve heard the term, often in relation to the aftermath of an auto accident but unless you have experienced it yourself you may not really know what it is or how to recognize it’s symptoms.
Whiplash is in fact well described by its name. A whiplash injury is caused when the head snaps suddenly forward and then back again. The jerking movement can then potentially cause damage to the ligaments, joints and muscles in the neck and upper back.
Now you are clearer about that, here are five more things you probably don’t know about whiplash injuries, but really should:
Whiplash Does Not Just Happen in an Auto Accident
While it is true that whiplash injuries are common complaints for those involved in an auto accident of some kind, that is not the only way that whiplash can occur. You can get whiplash from a sudden fall or while participating in a higher impact sport. For example, whiplash injuries are often suffered by those who ski, snowboard, box, play football or do gymnastics.
It Does Not Take a Great Deal of Force
Sometimes people are involved in low speed auto accidents or stationary incidents like being rear ended in a parking lot or at a stop light and because their adrenaline levels are still high after the accident they essentially feel OK because their body’s natural reaction to a traumatic incident is shielding them from pain.
That’s why it’s common that symptoms that may indicate a whiplash injury don’t show up for a few days. And even if they do many people dismiss the idea that they really wee injured in the auto accident because it was such a ‘low-impact’ collision. The fact is though that it does not take much force to cause a whiplash injury; many of the cases diagnosed each year occur in vehicle accidents that occur at speeds as low as five to 10 mph.
Older People are at Higher Risk
Older people, or those already dealing with a chronic condition like arthritis, are more likely to suffer a whiplash injury than their younger peers. That’s because as we age our muscles lose flexibility and ligaments lose elasticity, meaning that it takes less of a ‘lash’ motion to cause damage.
Symptoms Should Never be Ignored
As we mentioned, often it can be several days, weeks even, before whiplash truly ‘shows itself’. But when and if it does it is nothing to be ignored or minimized. Neck pain following even minor mishaps should be evaluated at your doctor’s office and treated appropriately, often with a course of chiropractic care to prevent long term damage.
Too Much Rest is Not a Good Thing
Sometimes, when it comes to whiplash injury the pain involved makes it tempting to move as little as possible and ‘rest up’ the injury a great deal. This can be very counterproductive though.
Resting for more than a day or so can allow muscles and ligaments to stiffen and/or weaken, making things worse. A better course of action is to seek medical help asap and then follow the course of treatment suggested to you and let your health care practitioners determine you should, and should not, be doing in terms of physical activity.