What are Whiplash Symptoms?

Whiplash symptoms typically include neck stiffness, neck pain, and headaches. Some people with whiplash might also experience pain between their shoulder blades. Ringing in the ears and memory problems may also occur when a person has whiplash, but these symptoms tend to be rare. Whiplash symptoms can vary from person to person, and the onset of the symptoms is often delayed. It is not uncommon for a person with whiplash to go for 24 to 48 hours before noticing that anything is physically wrong with her.

Most people believe that whiplash is a type of injury normally sustained from auto accidents, but there are other things that can cause it. People who participate in contact sports, such as football or soccer, are at an increased risk for developing whiplash. Physical abuse might also cause whiplash. Women, small children, and babies tend to be at greater risk of developing whiplash than men because their necks are normally weaker.

A person who is experiencing whiplash symptoms should see his doctor for an evaluation. Whiplash cannot typically be diagnosed with a traditional x-ray machine because the damage does not involve a person's bones, but rather her soft tissues and muscles. A doctor often has to use a CT scan or some other type of imaging equipment to make an accurate diagnosis of whiplash. Once the diagnosis has been made, a doctor will discuss treatment options with his patient, which might include the use of a cervical collar, physical therapy, and pain medicine. Surgery could occasionally be necessary to correct whiplash, but this tends to be extremely rare.

In addition to pain relievers, a person with whiplash might find relief from his pain by using heat or ice on the injured area. Heat and ice treatment can help to reduce inflammation and swelling, which could lead to less pain overall. Regular visits to a chiropractor and masseuse might also benefit a person with whiplash, but a doctor's approval may be necessary before these methods of treatment are attempted.

Regardless of the type of treatment used for dealing with whiplash symptoms, the problem normally goes away on its own within a fairly short period of time. The average person does not suffer from whiplash for more than a few weeks to a month. Whiplash might occasionally cause a person to have neck pain that comes and goes on a regular basis for an indefinite period of time, but this is more likely to become a problem for elderly people.


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