Doctor Secrets!


Whiplash Accident

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Whiplash Accident Cause

Whiplash accidents are caused by sudden snapping of your neck muscles, ligaments, and nerves in a whip like motion most commonly experienced through driving and sports accidents. With severe whiplash the bones of your neck (cervical C spine) may also break - neck fracture. The flailing action of your neck in a whiplash injury stretches the muscles, ligaments, and nerves in your neck. If stretched beyond their tensile limit they develop microscopic tears which if severe, can lead to a visible full thickness rupture.

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Whiplash Accident Symptoms

  • Grade 0: No noticeable neck pain, stiffness or injury symptoms.
  • Grade 1: Mild whiplash symptoms include minimal muscle soreness around the neck area with full range of motion and may include a dull headache the next day.
  • Grade 2: Moderate whiplash symptoms include more muscle tenderness, stiffness and discomfort, headaches which persist several days, decreased range of motion and tenderness over the neck muscles.
  • Grade 3: Severe whiplash. A painful neck with nerve deficit symptoms such as grip weakness, numbess in your fingers and loss of arm reflexes.
  • Grade 4:Very severe whiplash symptoms including neck fracture or dislocation or spinal cord damage.

Whiplash Accident Treatment

  • Mild whiplash treatment requires rest, ice and an anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Motrin for 1-2 weeks to fully recover.
  • Moderate whiplash injury can typically be treated by adding a muscle relaxant and physiotherapy physical modalities such as heat, current, ultrasound, massage and graduated exercise. Moderate whiplash injury is also helped by wearing a soft collar for neck support initially, reduces movement to rest injured fibres.
  • Severe whiplash injuries are typically treated in an Emergency department and can range from wearing a rigid support collar for several weeks to surgical neck fixation for C spine fractures under supervision of an orthopedic specialist.

Whiplash Accident Prevention

Whiplash can be prevented by wearing helmets during sports and motorcycling, and seatbelts when driving.

Doctor Secrets! Whiplash injuries often hurt more the day after an accident. That's why you should see your doctor within 24hrs even if you fell fine to have your injuries documented in case a whiplash lawsuit has to be pursued.

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    Last Updated:
    April 22 2016
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