Whiplash is a common injury involving the neck of a person following a strong acceleration and deceleration that can cause uncontrolled, strong forward and backward movement of the head and neck that is usually due to vehicular accidents. Whiplash injury involves damage to the structure of bones and soft tissue. In most cases, “whiplash-associated injuries” are often severe and considered as chronic conditions. Whiplash is not serious condition, but sometimes can result to a long period of partial disability.
- Stiffness and pain in the neck
- Headaches and dizziness
- Stiffness and pain can be felt in the shoulder
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain and weakness of the arm
- Pain in the back
- Ringing in the ears or tinnitus
- Visual disturbances
Grades of whiplash injuries
- Grade 1 – only minimal whiplash, there are no motion, ligament or neurological injuries.
- Grade 2 – there is minimal limited motion, no ligament or neurological injuries and treatment can last for 29 weeks.
- Grade 3 – the person has moderate motion limitation, injuries to the ligaments and has symptoms of neurological injuries and treatment usually last for 56 weeks.
- Grade 4 – a moderately severe injury, motion limitation and the ligaments are injured and have symptoms of neurological injuries. There are fractured discs or disc misalignment. This injury requires medical help.
- Grade 5 – severe injury that needs immediate medical help.
- After the accident, take a rest for the first 24 hours and slowly begin with usual routine instead of just sitting in bed. Limit the work and other regular daily activities for the first few days.
- Avoid lifting any objects that is heavy for at least 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the severity of the injuries.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected neck, back or shoulders for the first 48-72 hours after the accident in order to help lessen pain and swelling. Apply the cold compress at least for 10-30 minutes every hour. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin. Make sure that it is wrapped in towel or cloth in order to prevent frostbite.
- Apply moist heat on the 4th day after the injury in order to help restore the flexibility of the affected muscles. Apply heat on the affected neck at least 10-30 minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours. Make a heat pack by filling a cloth sock with 4 cups of uncooked rice, tie the ends of the socks and microwave it for 1-3 minutes and then apply on the affected area. Essential oils can be added to the rice in order for an added smell.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin to lessen the pain and swelling.