“Whiplash” Neck Injuries—Some Prevention and Treatment Tips

What is whiplash?

Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration (CAD) is injury to the neck which is most often caused by rear-end motor vehicle crashes. When a car strikes another car from behind, the victim’s neck is thrown backward and then forward quickly enough to cause damage to the muscles, disks, or ligaments on or around the cervical vertebrae. The backward/forward snapping motion of CAD is why the injury has come to be known as “whiplash.” RightDiagnosis.com, a medical website, reports that about 120,000 cases of whiplash occur in the US every year.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

There are a slew of symptoms associated with this injury, some of which are apparent immediately. Other symptoms are subtler or come on gradually. Symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain in the neck

  • Stiffness in the neck

  • Headaches

  • Shoulder pain and stiffness

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Tingling and/or numbness in the fingers

How can I help to prevent whiplash?

Since most cases of whiplash are caused by being struck by another driver, one of the best ways to prevent the injury is to use your lap and shoulder seatbelts.Placing  the headrest so that the head rest in a position so that back of your head sits comfortably against it is also important.

How is whiplash treated?

Whiplash can be a very serious injury. According to a Johns Hopkins “Symptoms and Remedies” database, some useful treatment tips for minor cases of whiplash include the following:

  • During the first 24 hours following the injury, apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.

  • Rather than a pillow, sleep on a towel that is rolled up (less than two inches in diameter).

  • After 24 hours, hot showers and compresses may help with pain and swelling.

  • For more severe cases of whiplash, your doctor may suggest wearing a padded neck brace. He may also prescribe nonprescription pain relievers or muscle relaxants.

More serious cases of whiplash may require more intense medical care. If you believe you have sustained an injury to the neck following a car accident, you should seek medical attention. Your doctor may order x-rays to be taken of your neck, and will  perform a physical examination to test your motor ability and sensation. For more information on whiplash, please see the article “Injuries to the Neck in Rear End Collisions,” which is also found on our website.

You should also request a free copy of Purchasing Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania, an insurance guide written by Stuart A. Carpey.