Whiplash Symptoms and What to Do About them

Share via

Driving can be stressful enough at times, but things really go up a level when an accident occurs. We may initially feel shocked and traumatised, but different physical symptoms may also be experienced over time. Whiplash occurs during car crashes when the neck is jarred at high speed. Let’s take a look at what the symptoms are and what we can do to manage them.

The symptoms and the damage

People may encounter headaches and a stiff neck. There may be a pain in the shoulder or lower back. In addition to this, there may be dizziness or numbness in the hands or arms. People may also experience trouble getting to sleep or struggle to maintain concentration. Whiplash can occur when there is damage sustained to the discs, ligaments, or muscles. Two specific examples are affected by nerve roots or cervical muscles.

Seeking medical help and compensation

It is always advisable to tell one’s doctor what has happened. Such an appointment should become urgent if someone feels weakness in their arms and legs, or suddenly feels like they’ve been electrocuted. Anyone who feels severe discomfort despite taking pain-relief tablets, or who has tingling in the sides of the body, especially after an accident, should also see a doctor immediately.

Doctors will make a basic check for external signs of physical trauma. An x-ray may reveal bone fractures or breaks, but it will not be able to reveal whiplash. A medic may, therefore recommend a CT or MRI scan.

Medical costs will obviously be incurred in order to gain a diagnosis. When someone has suffered neck and back injuries, it may be a long road to recovery. Some people may never be able to work again, following the car crash that caused whiplash. Personal injury lawyers exist to find out who was liable for the accident. They can also advise how much financial compensation should be sought.

Collars, ice and heat treatment

In the past, a cervical collar was a textbook response to whiplash. In more recent years, medical specialists have said it is more important to keep the neck moving. When a patient sleeps, they should use a firm pillow. This will serve two functions: to keep the neck still and to provide support.

Gentle exercises should be ok, and walking is fine as it puts no strain upon the neck. Rapid movement or lifting should be strongly avoided during this time. Obviously, any strenuous exercise is also strictly off the table.

Ice packs are usually administered to whiplash sufferers during the first one to three days. They should be applied to the neck indirectly, so as to avoid ice burns on the skin. People can apply them for up to 20 minutes and repeat the process every hour as desired.

Heat treatment can be considered 24 hours after the car accident. Heat pads can be applied for fifteen minutes maximum at a time, but indirectly in order to prevent heat burn. You can wrap a pad in a cloth, for example.

Pain relief medication and physical therapies

In order to reduce feelings of pain, people are able to use over-the-counter medicines. These include paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, or aleve.

Doctors have the authority to prescribe medicine. These can include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, or even narcotics for severe pain. One example drug is Valium, which is used as a muscle relaxant.

In some instances, a doctor may recommend a lidocaine injection. Some other options are ultrasound or electrical stimulation. Massages are a relaxing treat, but in this situation, the person who performs it must be made aware of the whiplash. If it is done well, it should provide a measure of pain relief. Some people go to chiropractors in order for the spine to be adjusted.

Psychological support

One study found that nearly 26% of whiplash patients experienced PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This emotional condition cannot be viewed in isolation because it had an adverse impact upon the peoples’ physical symptoms. We mentioned seeking compensation earlier, and trauma is a highly valid element to any personal injury claim.

PTSD symptoms can be addressed by the person talking about their experience and maintaining regular exercise. Mindfulness meditation and counselling has helped many people too. PTSD support groups exist in many places, and in some instances, drugs like tranquilizers and antidepressants have been prescribed by doctors.

No single medical treatment has been proven to heal whiplash. The key thing is to involve the medical profession and have whatever treatment they recommend. Hopefully, the condition will reduce and disappear over time. It may be wise to seek legal compensation whether or not this occurs.