Whiplash: More Common Than You Might Realize

Whiplash Symptoms

  • Neck Pain
  • Headache
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing in Ears
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue or Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo (sense of rotation)

Car accidents, blows to the back in sports, and on the job injuries can easily leave you with a whiplash injury. While sometimes symptoms are felt immediately, often symptoms are delayed for days, months, or even years. 1

The most common symptom of whiplash (affecting 62 percent to 92 percent of those injured) is neck pain, and it usually begins between two hours and two days after the accident. 2 This is often the result of tightened muscles that react to either muscle tears or excessive movement of joints from ligament damage. The muscles tighten in an effort to splint up and support the head, limiting the excessive movement. While muscle relaxants can relieve some of the discomfort of these spasms, using muscle relaxants without wearing a support collar to brace and hold the head in place can undermine this natural protection from the muscles and cause further injury.

An estimated 66 percent to 70 percent of those suffering from whiplash complain of headaches. 3 The pain may be on one side or both, on again and off again or constant, in one spot or more general. These headaches, like neck pain, are often the result of tightened, tensed muscles trying to keep the head stable and, like tension headaches, they are often felt behind the eyes.

Shoulder pain, often described as pain radiating down the back of the neck into the shoulder blade area, also may be the result of tensed muscles.

Muscle tears often are described as burning pain, prickling or tingling. More severe disc damage may cause sharp pain with certain movements, which are relieved by holding your hand over your head.

If you experience any of the symptoms, you may have a whiplash injury that, left untreated, can cause far more serious problems, months, or even years later.

The Quebec Automobile Insurance Society recently released an exhaustive study of more than 10,382 articles on neck injuries and concluded most interventions for whiplash injury were unproven, including soft cervical collars and corticosteroid injections. Yet they recommended spinal manipulation as clearly effective. 4 So if you suspect you have a whiplash injury, choose a specialist in spinal injuries, like Dr. Reichert, who has proven methods of care for whiplash.

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