What is Whiplash?
Pain in the neck, shoulders, head or the base of the skull that occurs after a motor vehicle accident is often called “whiplash.” Most patients with whiplash recover in few weeks or at most, a few months, but 15-20% of people develop chronic pain. Whiplash is not a trivial problem, because once it has occurred; only 70% have recovered completely by one year and only 82% have recovered completely by two years. In addition to neck pain, there are many symptoms associated with the whiplash syndrome and include sleep problems, poor concentration and memory, blurry vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, and weakness.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Most people experience neck pain either immediately after the injury or several days later. Other symptoms of whiplash may include the following:
- Neck stiffness
- Injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries)
- Headache and dizziness (symptoms of a concussion)
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing and hoarseness (could indicate injury to the esophagus and larynx)
- Abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (this is called paresthesias)
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
Diagnosis of Whiplash
Although whiplash usually only causes damage to the soft tissues of the neck, the physician will take x-rays of the cervical spine for reference in case of delayed symptoms and to rule out other spinal problems or injuries.