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Why You Should Never Ignore Whiplash After an Auto Accident

More than 2 million Americans suffer whiplash every year. Whiplash is a neck strain or sprain injury that can happen when your head snaps forward and backward sharply.

Whiplash is most commonly associated with front- and rear-end auto accidents, but did you know that many other injuries and accidents can trigger it? High-impact sports, riding a roller coaster, a blow to the head, and many other incidents can leave you with the characteristic neck pain and stiffness of whiplash.

When your head is forced back and forth abruptly, the muscles and tendons supporting your neck stretch beyond their usual range. Hyperflexion and hyperextension can cause symptoms that range from neck pain and headaches to blurry vision and dizziness. 

If you notice neck pain, stiffness, or other symptoms following an auto accident — or any other type of injury — don’t ignore your symptoms. Our team at Manhattan Orthopedics specializes in treating all of the most common types of neck pain, including whiplash.

Seeking prompt care for whiplash helps ensure your neck heals as quickly as possible, and that you’re not left with lingering pain or other symptoms.

Symptoms of whiplash

The most well-known symptom of whiplash is neck pain. But pain and other symptoms may not be noticeable immediately after the accident, so it’s important to learn all the possible symptoms and pay close attention to any changes you experience if you’ve recently been injured.

Whiplash symptoms typically include:

In more severe cases, whiplash may cause symptoms that include:

Whiplash symptoms usually develop within 24 hours after an injury or accident, but in some cases symptoms appear over several days. If pain spreads to your shoulders or arms, or you experience numbness or weakness in your arms, contact us immediately.

The risks of leaving whiplash untreated

Whiplash is generally seen as a mild condition, but that doesn’t mean you should wait for your symptoms to disappear on their own. Ignoring whiplash could make the condition worse.

Instead of healing on its own, whiplash symptoms may become chronic problems. People who don’t seek prompt treatment for whiplash may be more likely to suffer:

Your risk of suffering long-term complications increases if your whiplash is severe or if you have pre-existing neck problems. Having had whiplash previously, or having been involved in a high-speed accident could increase your risk of complications.

Older people who have degenerative osteoarthritis of the neck (cervical spondylosis) are not only more likely to get whiplash, but they’re also more likely to suffer long-term complications.

Treatment for whiplash neck pain

Our orthopedic specialists regularly diagnose and treat whiplash to help patients of all ages recover from auto accidents and other injuries. If you’re bothered by neck pain, stiffness, or other symptoms following an accident, make an appointment for a whiplash evaluation.

We start by asking questions about your accident and the symptoms you’re experiencing. We move through a physical exam to assess the extent of your injury. Whiplash isn’t visible in medical imaging tests, but we may order X-rays, an MRI, or CT scan to rule out other problems that could be making your pain worse.

Treatment for whiplash generally includes over-the-counter or prescription pain medication and ice therapy. In some cases, our doctors may recommend wearing a neck brace or collar. If you choose to use a neck support device, don’t use it for more than a few days to prevent your muscles from weakening.

If you have neck pain, don’t ignore it. Getting professional care for whiplash helps you recover faster and reduces your risk of long-term complications — no matter how severe your injury is. Contact Manhattan Orthopedics by phone or book an appointment online.

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