A whiplash neck sprain occurs when your head is suddenly jolted backwards and forwards in a whip-like movement, usually caused by motor car accidents known as a “rear-ender.” These movements generate considerable force, typically causing the neck to move far beyond the normal range of movement and causes damage to the delicate supporting structures of the neck. Whiplash is practically a sprain of the joints in the neck. Health professionals refer to this condition as a vertebral dysfunction.
Whiplash can also result from forceful sporting injuries that cause similar stress to the neck joints, ligaments, muscles, and discs.
Risk Factors of Whiplash and Neck Sprains
Whiplash neck sprains are common. About 2 in 3 people involved in car accidents develop neck pain (with or without other injuries). Many people are surprised with the onset of neck pain following even minor accidents some hours after the event. It is important to note that even minor car bumps can cause enough whipping of the neck to trigger symptoms. Less commonly, whiplash can result from everyday mishaps such as jolting your neck when you trip or fall.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whilst the symptoms of whiplash will vary, the following represent the most frequently noticed effects of whiplash:
- Pain in the neck
- Head feels too heavy for the neck
- Reduced neck movement
- Neck stiffness
- Pain into the shoulders and arms
- Tingling in the arms and fingers
- Dizziness, headache, blurred vision, and pain on swallowing
- Irritability and difficulty to concentrate.
If you are able to support your head and neck, it is especially important to keep your neck mobile rather than immobilising it in a soft cervical collar. Another helpful advice is to avoid poor neck posture during your daily routine and to use a firm supporting contoured pillow when sleeping.