Whiplash is the term used to describe the symptoms following an injury to the soft tissues of the neck. This condition is caused by any abnormal motion or force applied to the neck that causes movement not within the normal range of motion.
Whiplash is generally associated with auto accidents, which are the leading cause of the condition. In this case, whiplash usually occurs when an automobile is hit from behind. It can also be caused by sports injuries or a blow to the head from a falling object. In less acute cases, whiplash may be attributed to repetitive stress injuries.
Symptoms of whiplash may be apparent immediately following the initial injury, or can take time to develop. When symptoms appear very quickly, it is a sign that serious damage has occurred.
Whiplash can be experienced as any of the following symptoms:
• Pain in the neck or along the back of the neck
• Muscle spasms
• Swelling in the neck
• Shooting pains that travel from the neck down to the arms or shoulders
• An inability to move the neck
Whiplash should be treated as soon as it is detected; to ignore the issue may result in a chronic pain situation and lead to other health concerns. Chronic pain is a more difficult condition to treat. If whiplash is never properly addressed, it can ultimately lead to surgery or, even worse, the effects of long term dependence on pain medications.