Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, usually caused by sudden forceful jerk commonly occurring because of an automobile accident, sports injuries, or an accidental fall. Sometimes whiplash may also be referred to as neck strain, neck sprain or hyperextension injury.
Neck pain, stiffness in the neck and headache are the most common symptoms of whiplash. Headache may develop immediately after the injury or after a short period. Other symptoms include dizziness, tingling or pricking sensation in the upper extremities, shoulder pain, stiffness and psychological conditions such as memory loss, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances.
Diagnosis depends on the history of the injury and the symptoms. X-ray of the neck may be taken to make sure there are no fractures or dislocation of the cervical spine. Pain medications, muscle relaxants, bed rest, cervical collar, neck exercises, ice therapy, heat therapy and physical therapy have been used in the management of symptoms. Bed rest and use of a soft cervical collar to immobilize the neck, usually results in minimal benefit, and hence early initiation of simple exercises is advised to restore flexibility. Physical therapy can be useful to help strengthen muscles and reduce pain. To avoid this injury, always wear your seat belt and adjust your headrest to a proper height while driving.