The term whiplash is a relatively “young” term, emerged in the year 1928. Prior to this year, people used the term “railway spine.”

So what is it? It is a non-medical term, describing a neck injury caused by a sudden acceleration or deceleration. Due to the high speeds, this injury usually involves motorized vehicles, but even intense sneezing has been known to cause it.

The whiplash injury usually involves damage to the bones (vertebrae) and the soft tissue (muscles, blood vessels and nerves). The pain can be acute, appearing suddenly and presenting with intense symptoms or it can turn out to be chronic and long-lasting.

Neck Injury illustration Signs And Symptoms Of This Injury

The most common, early signs of the injury are very subtle, so you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending. And as the injury progresses and the times goes by, the symptoms might intensify and cause a great deal of discomfort.

Most common symptoms are:

  • Stiffness and soreness in the muscles of the neck
  • A noticeable pain between shoulder blades
  • Difficulty when turning your head from side to side
  • Headache, dizziness and ringing in the ears
  • Referred pain stretching along the arm
  • Weakness in the muscles of the back and the arm
  • Back pain

If the pain persists and affect the individual over a long period of time, it can affect people`s psychics and cause:

  • depression
  • anger and frustration for no apparent reason
  • anxiety and sleeping disorders
  • stress

What Causes It?

As we`ve mentioned before, the main cause involves sudden acceleration or deceleration.

According to the most recent studies, this injury most often occurs in rear impact. This situation showed that in this particular situation, the lower portion of the neck is forced in hyperextension and the upper section of the neck is forced in hyperflexion.

This position is unnatural and will, almost certainly, lead to injury to the soft tissue of the neck and, depending on the speed of the collision, it may fracture the bones in the neck.

It can also be caused by:

  • A sports injury
  • Intense sneezing
  • Sudden blow to the back of the neck
  • Physical abuse

How Long Will It Last?

This is a very difficult question to answer without being familiar with the severity of your injury, the age and overall level of physical fitness and health.

The best advice I can give you at this point is to visit your doctor if you suspect any injury. But the rule of thumb is this – if your pain does not go away after a day or two, or if it starts to intensify as the time goes by, turn to your doctor for help.

The pain may last anywhere from a couple days (acute) up to several years (severe chronic pain) so this is certainly nothing you should take lightly. I know that most of you, looking for information online, want to help yourself and avoid the “unnecessary” trip to the doctor`s office, but your health is not something you should take for granted!

Treatment


The reality is that most of the so-called “whiplash treatment procedures”  have not been fully tested to determine their effectiveness, which is why you need to find doctors that are up-to-date with this sort of injuries so they can offer you the best information currently available.

One of the most traditional ways of dealing with this injury has been a neck collar, but this can also be a double edged sword since excessive rest and immobilization can lead to chronic pain. And this is why the most optimal way of treatment is limited rest, combined with proper physical therapy.

Injury Claims

The topic of injury claims and compensation is a burning one in the recent years. With the average payout for minor injuries of over $5000 and for major injuries of up to $15000, it has become a lucrative business and, sadly, more and more bogus claims appear by people attempting to game the system.

For this reason, medical boards and insurance companies are becoming increasingly strict and are looking into each and every case in an effort to sort out the real claims and help only those with real medical problems.

In order to make a whiplash claim for compensation you will have to:

  • Call the police and ambulance to the scene
  • Seek medical assistance
  • Keep all the medical records and data
  • Find a claim specialist and go over your options

References:

http://www.medicinenet.com

http://news.sky.com/story/1158429/

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