During a car accident, your body is likely to experience trauma of some sort, and the most common forms of trauma are not necessarily visible from the outside. Whiplash is the most common car accident injury, but despite its prevalence, diagnosing this condition usually relies on monitoring symptoms and tests performed at a College Park imaging center. Because it is not a visible injury, it can be difficult to know if you are experiencing whiplash and if so, what to do about it. Understanding when to see a specialist and what to expect during that visit can help you manage the condition properly.
How Whiplash Happens
In the simplest terms, whiplash is a neck injury, particularly a sprain or strain. It is further defined by the causes, symptoms, and damage related to the neck injury. The most common cause is a forceful “whipping” motion of the neck, which is why it is heavily associated with auto accidents, though it can also be an injury sustained during sports or physical trauma. The impact of a crash, particularly when your vehicle is rear-ended, can cause the head to move unnaturally. This causes damage to the ligaments, muscles, and other soft tissue in the neck and shoulder area, which is what we know as whiplash.
While whiplash is a mild condition, it can cause pain and discomfort that is hard to manage. If not treated properly with adequate imaging and care, it can also become more chronic and lead to long-term pain.
While the whiplash occurs immediately upon impact, you may not actually notice symptoms for as long as a few days. The adrenaline rush and chaos caused by the accident may not let your body register the pain immediately, so it is important to monitor your symptoms after your accident in case whiplash appears later.
Most commonly, whiplash is associated with stiffness or pain in the neck, a loss of mobility in the neck, headaches, tingling and numbness in the arms and hands, back pain, dizziness, and fatigue. In some cases, you may also experience problems with sleep, memory, concentration, or mood stability.
If you think you may have whiplash, it is important to visit a specialist who can offer chiropractic care as well as imaging. A doctor will first speak to you about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. This is often the main way to diagnose whiplash, but doctors may also order College Park imaging, such as a CT scan or MRI, which can help detect whiplash in more severe cases.
Most cases of whiplash can be treated with simple care and a bit of time. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories or direct you to take over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and help the healing process. You may also be told to use a combination of ice and heat for pain management, as well as refrain from activities like sports that can exacerbate pain. However, it is unlikely you will be asked to wear a brace or collar, as gentle regular movement is good for the whiplash treatment.
As you continue to visit the doctor, they will likely suggest a set of exercises to help regain motion in the neck. This plan may begin with simple movements like rotating the neck side to side or rolling the shoulders- in some cases, this may be in the form of physical therapy done under the supervision of a specialist.
If symptoms persist or the whiplash appears to be particularly severe, there are more invasive treatments that can be applied based on results from College Park imaging tests. Manual adjustments by chiropractors, massage therapy, and injections of steroids to reduce inflammation are all commonly employed to help with whiplash.
Most whiplash patients are able to heal fully within 3 months using these methods, though it can become chronic in some cases. Patients who have a history of neck and back pain, women, and those who are older may be at higher risk for a chronic issue to arise.
When seeking treatment for potential whiplash, it is important to choose a provider who has experience with the condition and properly diagnosing it. At AICA College Park, we rely not only on the experience of our chiropractors and orthopedic doctors, but also on cutting-edge technology that can aid in a proper diagnosis. By giving you access to both traditional and technological treatment options, AICA College Park is able to build a personalized treatment plan based on your specific injuries. Once a plan is in place, our patients have access to a range of specialists who can help you enact that plan and recover quickly. Contact us today for your initial consultation!