Whiplash is a common neck injury caused by a sudden violent movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways. Symptoms of whiplash usually develop within hours following an accident, but their nature can vary considerably. Typical symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders; headaches; numbness or tingling in the arms and hands; low back pain; dizziness; loss of concentration, memory loss; excessive tiredness; ringing in the ears (tinnitus); and blurred vision. Most symptoms generally improve within a few weeks.
Whiplash injury commonly occurs when the tissue in the spine and neck is stretched and strained after the body is thrown in a sudden violent jerking motion (usually from behind), such as in a road accident, when the head is ‘whipped’ backwards and forwards. Whiplash injury can also be caused by sporting activities such as diving or bungee jumping.
Treatment can include one or more of the following:
- Supportive / soft collar to prevent movement
- Heat and ice therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Posture management
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Surgery – if symptoms persist
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