The term whiplash is most often used to describe a cervical strain that occurs as the result of a car accident. Cervical strains from car accidents most commonly occur in a “rear end” type of motor vehicle accident.
Whiplash injuries are commonly stereotyped as suspect or trivial injuries, but cervical strains are legitimate injuries and should be taken seriously.
Research done by the Biomechanics Laboratory at Yale University in New Haven and research done with live human volunteers offers some insight into how the neck is injured in an impact causing a whiplash injury.
Per the results of these studies, shortly after the impact, the spine undergoes what appears to be an S shaped curve rather than the normal C shape. The lower part of the spine is bent backward and the upper part is bent forward, both beyond the normal range of motion, causing overextension and injury of the neck muscles.
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- neck pain
- limited range of motion
Less common symptoms can include:
- trouble sleeping
- ringing in the ears
- trouble with concentration
Symptoms may not present themselves right away, but they often appear within 24 hours.
The 5 most common treatments for whiplash are the following:
- Conservative Care.
Doctors will typically prescribe Tylenol or aspirin for a neck strain. For more severe injuries, a muscle relaxant to reduce spasming may be prescribed.
- Physical therapy.
Doctors may prescribe physical therapy for the injury to reduce pain and the inflammation cycle. Simple exercises can typically build strength and flexibility in the neck.
- Ice or Heat.
Doctors may advise you to use alternating ice or heat on the affected area.
- Chiropractic Care.
Your doctor may recommend you seek chiropractic treatment.
- Soft collar/Neck Brace.
Conservative care by your doctor may include wearing a soft neck brace used to support the neck.
Sometimes a neck brace is utilized only for a short period while waiting for X-rays to see if a cervical spine fracture exists. For longer use, a soft collar can be used to realign the spinal cord and relieve pain.
Cervical strains or whiplash injuries are common to rear end type accidents.
In addition to calling the police and your insurance company, you should seek medical care after the accident and continue with care until symptoms are resolved.
If you or anyone has been injured in a motor vehicle accident and sustained whiplash or any other injuries, be sure to seek trusted, professional legal advice.
Contact Hinman and Peck, P.C. at (877) 462-9732 for a FREE consultation to see if we can help.