What is whiplash neck strain?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa. The injury usually involves the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in the neck. Whiplash occurs when the neck is suddenly and forcibly bent backward and forward. This causes injury to the joints of the neck, known as the cervical vertebrae, and to the
surrounding soft tissue. The most common causes of whiplash are motor vehicle accidents, especially when the vehicle is struck from the rear.
Whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It may result from rearend or side-impact motor vehicle collisions, but can also occur during diving or other mishaps. The impact may result in bony or soft-tissue injuries (whiplash injury), which in turn may lead to a variety of clinical manifestations. Whiplash is a common injury and occurs most often in motor vehicle accidents in which a person in a car is hit from behind by another car.
Symptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury or may be delayed for several days. In addition to neck pain, other symptoms may include neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries), headache, dizziness, abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (paresthesias), or shoulder or back pain. In addition, some people experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions such as memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression.
A few people develop continuing symptoms after a whiplash trauma and develop what is known as whiplash syndrome. They suffer continual headaches and pain, reduced movement at the back of the neck, tingling in the arms, lumbar pains, fatigue, sleep disruptions and reduced libido. Whiplash syndrome is difficult to treat. The essence of the treatment is to prevent any further strain and encourage a quick return to normal everyday activities.
There is no single treatment for whiplash that is widely accepted among doctors. Treatment for individuals with whiplash may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a cervical collar (usually worn for 2 to 3 weeks). Range of motion exercises, physical therapy, and cervical traction may also be prescribed. Supplemental heat application may relieve muscle tension.