Whiplash is an injury to the tendon, ligaments and muscles of the neck and spine due to sudden or strong movement of the head or body. Whiplash is usually caused by vehicular accidents.
Symptoms of whiplash
- Stiffness or pain in the neck
- Headache at the back part of the neck
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Soreness of the shoulders, arms and upper back
- Tingling of the arms due to a damaged nerve
- Blurred vision
- Ringing ears
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Take plenty of rest at least during the initial 24 hours. Rest on a firm mattress with a neck support pillow for comfort.
- Minimize work and other regular activities for a few days after the injury. Avoid lifting heavy objects for at least 6 weeks to 6 months which depends on the severity of the condition.
- Apply an ice pack on the back, neck or shoulders during the first 48-72 hours to lessen the pain and swelling for 10-30 minutes at a time every hour. Avoid placing the pack directly on the skin. Wrap the pack with a towel or a piece of cloth before applying on the area.
- On the 4th day, apply heat on the affected area to restore the flexibility of the muscles. Apply heat for at least 10-30 minutes at a time every 2-3 hours.
- Immobilize the neck by wearing a neck brace which is a soft cervical collar to prevent unnecessary movement and promote fast healing.
- Massage is good for the rehabilitation of the soft tissues affected by whiplash. Massage increases the flow of blood in the injured muscles and ligaments, lessens spasms and promotes fast healing.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication to lessen the swelling and pain.
- Take the prescribed pain medication for severe pain to relieve the spasms due to the trauma.
- Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for proper movement of the neck and other areas affected by whiplash. Perform stretches and exercises to increase strength and range of motion of the back, neck and arms. Applying moist heat before performing therapy is beneficial for the condition.
Disclaimer / More Information
The material posted on this page on whiplash is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage head and neck injuries including whiplash by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.