While the winter months are enjoyable for a wide variety of reasons, this time of year also brings out some of the worst injuries among people both young and old. Cold temperatures and frost can leave roads icy and extremely dangerous, making the possibility of getting into a car crash much greater. In fact, recent studies have shown that in 2016 there were over 1,292 reported road deaths in Australia. With automobile accidents being such a pervasive threat in Australia, it is not only important to follow safe driving practices, but also to realise that even the smallest accidents can have a significant impact on your health. For example, whiplash, which is also referred to as a neck sprain or neck strain, is very common among those involved in car accidents, both big and small.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is typically characterized by a wide array of symptoms that occur right after the neck has been damaged and can affect the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments cervical muscles and nerve roots. As you can see, whiplash is a highly involved, painful and detrimental injury, so taking the necessary precautions to avoid it should be practiced at all times—especially during the winter months.
To fully understand the injury, you must first acknowledge what actually causes it in the first place. Whiplash is caused by a forceful backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head, which as aforementioned, is often the result of a car accident. Symptoms of the injury can arise after 24 hours of the initial injury. While the symptoms may differ depending on the severity of the trauma or the individual affected, whiplash is typically characterized by the following conditions:
- Unusual neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in lower back
- Intense headaches
- Pain in the shoulder or between shoulder blades
- Lack of memory or difficulty concentrating
- Pain or numbness in the arms/hands
- Irritability, sleep disturbances or fatigue
In most cases involving whiplash, injuries are made to soft tissues such as intervertebral discs, muscles and ligaments and cannot be seen through standard X-Ray machines. Because of this, specialized imagining tests, such as CT scans or MRI’s (magnetic resonance imaging) may be required to fully diagnose damages made to the discs, muscles or ligaments.
While there is no single treatment to aid in the recovery of whiplash, gentle exercises, physical therapy, traction, massage, heat, ice, injections and ultrasounds have all been helpful for a wide number of people affected.
Medical professionals also swear by treating whiplash injuries with immobilization in a cervical collar, which offers the damaged intervertebral discs, muscles and ligaments more protection during the healing process. Using products like the Thermoskin soft cervical neck brace can offer support and comfort to those experiencing neck trauma and whiplash, making them an affordable alternative to more expensive medical procedures. As we skate through the winter months here in Australia, it is important to adhere to proper driving practices and safety precautions to prevent injuries.
Have any tips on whiplash recovery? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!