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A Whiplash Injury May Be More Serious Than You Realize

The most common injury in an automobile accident is whiplash, a term that describes the injury that occurs to a person’s neck and back in a rear-end collision as well as other types of impacts. Although the majority of these injuries are minor and heal within days or a few weeks, many symptoms linger and may be more serious than first realized.

Symptoms of Whiplash

A whiplash occurs when an individual’s head is suddenly forced forward and then violently backwards in a rear-end collision. Often, the tendons and ligaments in the neck and back are torn or stretched beyond their normal range of motion. Symptoms vary, but many are similar:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Stiff back
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Pain radiating from neck to shoulders and arms
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Spinal damage

If a collision is serious enough, there can be damage to an individual’s vertebrae, such as a wedge fracture or a disc rupture.

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrom (TMJ)

Another complication from a whiplash injury that may be more serious than you realize is a condition called TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome. Symptoms include pain while chewing, locking of the jaw, and aching from the ear to the temple. Most injuries are treated with alternating ice and moist heat, pain medications, laser therapy, or ultrasound. In some cases, however, surgery may be needed to remove tissue adhesion bands or if there is severe scarring or chips in the joint.

Serious Complications for Whiplash

Most whiplash injuries are treated by rest, ice and moist heat applied to the injured areas, and chiropractic treatment, which includes massage and manipulations to the spine. In some cases, people experience loss of memory from a concussion because the whipping motion affects the spinal axis that leads to the head . Currently, many medical practitioners believe there is no such thing as a minor head injury. In some instances, paralysis can occur if an injury is left untreated since a fracture or hemorrhaging may be not be noticed immediately; symptoms can be delayed for weeks, months, or even years.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury, do not hesitate to receive medical treatment as soon as practicable to avoid potentially serious complications that may be more serious than you realize from a seemingly minor injury.