New Jersey Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash is an injury to the neck that results from a sudden and sharp forward and backward movement of the head, most often seen as a result of a car accident.  Whiplash is a broad term for neck sprain or neck strain, and can present in several different ways.

The vertebrae joints, discs, ligaments, muscles and nerve roots in the neck become damaged from the force of the impact and can cause symptoms that often don’t appear until 24 hours or more after injury.  Identifying and treating the injury as soon as possible will help avoid prolonged problems.

Symptoms of Whiplash

The most common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, headaches, dizziness, shoulder pain, low back pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulder area.  Cognitive symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, short term memory loss, irritability and insomnia or fatigue.  Anyone who has had a car accident or has experienced a neck trauma and presents with one or more of these symptoms should seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Diagnostic testing to confirm whiplash can include x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs.  Soft tissue damage and injuries to the vertebral discs, neck muscles or inflammation to the ligaments can only be seen on advanced imaging, so it is important to get precise images through CAT scans and MRIs.

Once diagnosed, the treatment of whiplash requires a combination of therapies.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve can help with pain, but gentle movement of the neck area is essential to promoting healing.

Treatment

In the past, doctors routinely treated whiplash by immobilizing the neck in a cervical collar, but modern medicine has found that physical therapy and exercise help to regain function in the neck more efficiently.  Massage, heat, ice, traction and ultrasound are effective treatments that reduce pain and increase motion.  In some cases, injectable steroidal medications can be used to reduce severe inflammation.

Any injury to the neck and head area can be serious and should be evaluated by a medical professional.  Early diagnosis and treatment can not only speed up your recovery, but can also help avoid further or more serious personal injury.