Neck strains and sprains are common and are often referred to by the inclusive term--whiplash. Although most commonly associated with car accidents, whiplash can be cause by any sudden blow, jerking, or impact that causes the head and neck to jerk or move quickly, thus resulting in the sprain or strain. The sudden force that causes whiplash injures the neck by stretching and tearing the muscles and tendons, resulting in pain, weakness, numbness, and limited mobility.
Neck strains most often relate to damage done to the muscle or the tendons in the neck. Neck sprains come from the tearing of the ligaments and the connective tissue of the spine. Though they are different, when you suffer from one of these injuries, you really don’t worry about which one you have as the causes, symptoms, and treatments are generally the same.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
The pain that comes from this type of injury is hard to ignore and symptoms include:
Pain in the neck muscles, loss of range of motion, and tightness or stiffness.
Pain when rotating your head side-to-side or looking up or down.
Tenderness in certain areas when lightly touched or pressed on.
Headaches that tend to originate at the base of the skull and move up to the forehead area.
Sometimes, you will be immediately aware of the strain or sprain. In other instances, it can take a few days to a week or more for the pain to set in. To diagnose neck sprains or strains, your doctor will examine you and will often call for either a set of X-rays, CT scans, or other tests to determine the exact source and cause of the issues.
What's the Treatment for Whiplash?
In most cases, given enough time to rest and heal, whiplash will get better on its own. To help with recovery, many doctors and therapists recommend:
Ice your neck 20-30 minutes at a time, every 3-4 hours a few days to reduce swelling and help numb the pain.
Take painkillers to help with the pain- your doctor can recommend the best OTC pills to start with and if they do not provide relief, strong prescription grade painkillers may be needed.
Use a neck brace to help add support for you head and neck, but it is not recommended to use a neck brace for more than a few weeks as it can weaken your neck muscled and make full recovery more difficult in the long run.
Apply moist heat to your neck once the initial swelling has gone down to help with movement and mobility.
Other treatments such as massage or additional chiropractic adjustments are also helpful.
When Will My Whiplash Feel Better?
It is important to remember that recovery time for a neck sprain or strain depends on how serious the injury is. Most cases resolve in a few days but some can take several weeks to fully recover from. Severe injury can result in long term issue such as light pain or reduced mobility. Remember that everyone is different and everyone's body responds to injury at a different rate. Once the acute symptoms and pain are gone, the most common course is to begin a rehabilitation routine that helps you get back to your normal level of fitness and activity. Rehabilitative therapy helps you recover faster and can also help to reduce the odds of suffering a whiplash sprain or strain injury again.
Call my office; I want to help you recover! Call Now! 303.766.2357