Cheryl felt dizzy and nauseous after experiencing a whiplash injury in a car accident. Mark’s whiplash injury happened during a football game—his lower back hurt! Patty’s whiplash injury gave her a severe concussion.
Whiplash is a painful condition that can cause a lot of damage to the neck, spine, and brain. It has multiple physical symptoms and includes unpleasant side effects. From ringing in the ears to back pain and neurological disorders, these side effects require additional healing.
What is Whiplash?
A whiplash injury is a sudden, violent impact to the body that throws the head backward and forward like a whip. The whipping motion excessively stretches the neck’s soft tissues, can force the cervical spine out of alignment, and damages bones and discs.
The most common causes of whiplash are rear-end car accidents, contact sports injuries, and physical abuse or assault (e.g., punching or shaking). The severe jerk forward may have adverse effects throughout the body with a multitude of symptoms.
What are the Main Whiplash Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of whiplash injuries include:
- Pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the neck.
- Pain in the back, shoulders, and arms.
- Dizziness and tiredness.
What can make whiplash particularly dangerous is that you may not feel the symptoms right away. After a car accident, for example, you may feel fine and think you got lucky. But after a few days, the pain makes itself known, and you may have exacerbated the injury by moving around too much before the pain hits.
See Your Chiropractor
For this reason, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident or other incident, even if you think you feel fine. Since a neck injury is musculoskeletal, a chiropractor should be your first stop.
It is not unusual for a whiplash injury to be treated with pain medication (over-the-counter or prescription) and recommendations to rest for a few days. But a chiropractor will delve further into the nature of the injury and execute a treatment plan for treating symptoms and healing.
There may be more to your whiplash injury than just your neck pain, as whiplash can lead to other complications. All the more reason to seek a physical exam and treatment even if you initially feel okay.
What is the Difference between Whiplash and a Concussion?
A whiplash injury and a concussion have similar symptoms. While both involve injury to the neck, doctors may find it difficult to distinguish between the two without knowing how the injury came about. But there are differences, and the occurrence of whiplash may lead to a concussion.
A concussion involves injury to brain tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. Any force that violently shakes the brain will cause it to hit the inside of the skull. Even a mild traumatic brain injury can hinder the normal transmission of signals from the brain. For example, a concussion may be caused by a blow to the head or whiplash as the head is flung back and forth.
Can Whiplash Cause Migraines?
Sometimes, with whiplash symptoms come headaches. And for some people, those headaches become migraines. A migraine headache is extremely painful, often with a throbbing sensation, upset stomach, and an overly sensitive reaction to light and sound. It can last for a few hours or days.
Most post-whiplash headaches (about 80%) originate from an injury to facet joints in the neck. Others may be caused by injuries to a disc in the neck.
Can Whiplash Cause Tinnitus?
A whiplash injury can lead to symptoms such as ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears— i.e., tinnitus—that follow the rhythm of the heartbeat or breathing. It happens most frequently in men and both men and women over 40. Chiropractic manipulations are beneficial for treating tinnitus caused by whiplash.
Can Whiplash Cause Nausea?
Whiplash can cause severe headaches and dizziness, and it may block circulation affecting the inner ear. This may make some people feel nauseous and even cause vomiting. About 25 to 50% of people with whiplash experience nausea.
Can Whiplash Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Whiplash victims may have symptoms indicating a brain injury, including dizziness, headache, cognitive problems, visual impairment, and sleep disturbances. Studies have shown blood flow changes and decreased density in the brain’s gray matter in whiplash patients.
Can Whiplash Cause Acute Peripheral Vestibular Deficits?
The vestibular system regulates your balance, i.e., the work of your inner ear and brain. A whiplash injury may disrupt this system, causing balance difficulties and dizziness. A peripheral vestibular disorder prevents your system from producing normal sensory information about the movement and position of your head.
Can Whiplash Cause Lower Back Pain?
When you experience whiplash, most of the force is concentrated in your neck. But your whole body experiences the violent jolt, including your lower back. Pain in the muscles and muscle spasms are common whiplash symptoms.
Can Whiplash Cause Cervical Vertigo?
Cervical vertigo is a feeling of dizziness and spinning due to an injury to the neck. Moving your neck and head intensifies these sensations. As a result, you may have a hard time keeping your balance or concentrating. This dizziness is a common symptom of whiplash.
Can Whiplash Damage Your Nervous System?
Because of the damage it can cause to the neck, cervical spine, and brain, a whiplash may bring about several neurological symptoms. Whiplash injuries such as herniated discs can exert pressure on nerve roots and lead to chronic issues. In some cases, whiplash can also lead to problems with memory, focus, sleep, and sudden mood changes.
What is the Average Whiplash Healing Time?
For many people, whiplash symptoms last a few weeks with treatment. However, whiplash means more than neck pain for some patients, so it may take longer to heal, given the other symptoms that may accompany the whiplash. Without proper care, some people end up with chronic pain and serious complications.
We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!
At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, we use adjustments and soft tissue treatments to alleviate immediate pain and symptoms of whiplash and prevent further injury and chronic complications. Contact us for an appointment. We will develop a treatment plan to put you on the road to healing! Also, we invite you to visit our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments!