Whiplash is the result of sudden force that jerks your head and neck forward and backward quickly. This stresses the cervical spine severely, causing neck pain and potential displacement of your cervical vertebrae.
Getting rear-ended in a car accident is most commonly responsible for this condition, but falls from a horse, bungee jumping, rollercoasters, and football can also cause whiplash.
Most people experience pain in the neck that ranges from mild to almost intolerable. Other neck symptoms include:
Your shoulders and upper back may also be in pain. Headaches, ear ringing, dizziness, and numbing or weakness in the arms often result, too. Symptoms may appear immediately after the event causing the whiplash, or may not be evident for up to 24 hours.
Dr. Berkower identifies the causes of your back and neck pain using clinical examinations, X-rays, and MRIs. He’ll consider the details about your accident or event that caused the injury.
During a physical exam, he looks at your posture and neck position, feels your neck for specific areas of tenderness or tightness, and tests your range of motion. Depending on your symptoms, he may also look at the strength and function of your muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and arms, too.
Doctors grade the severity of whiplash from I to V, with level II being most common. If you have grade II whiplash, you might complain of neck stiffness, tenderness, and pain. You might also have decreased range of motion in your neck and palpable tenderness.
Dr. Berkower may recommend home remedies for mild cases of grade I whiplash. Such remedies include over-the-counter pain medications, rest, and a combination of ice and heat.
For more serious cases of whiplash, Dr. Berkower may prescribe medications, give you pain-relieving injections or recommend physical therapy. Dr. Berkower may also do manual adjustments to help put your cervical vertebrae back into alignment and relieve pressure on specific nerves that are causing you pain.
Most cases of whiplash resolve within three months, when treated appropriately. Older adults, women—due to their smaller neck structure—and severe cases may take slightly longer to heal.
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