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Understanding whiplash injuries

If you injure your neck or back in a Texas car crash, you stand a good chance of receiving a whiplash injury. This is particularly true if the crash results from another vehicle rear-ending you. Spine-Health.com explains that a whiplash occurs when the impact of your crash makes your head and neck violently jerk forward and backward, thereby injuring their nerves and tissues.

Your whiplash injury, also called cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome (CAD), may heal by itself, although this generally will take at least three months. On the other hand, its effects could last for years or even for the rest of your life. The most common whiplash symptoms include the following:

  • Neck pain, often quite severe
  • Neck stiffness, often quite substantial
  • Reduced range of motion in your head and neck
  • Pain in your shoulders and/or upper back
  • Persistent headaches, often quite severe
  • Persistent weakness, numbness or tingling in your shoulders or arms

Whiplash diagnosis

Often your doctor may find it difficult to diagnose your precise injury. This is because a whiplash can involve numerous areas of your body. For example, you could suffer a slipped disc, a fractured vertebra or various forms of nerve damage. Therefore, be prepared to undergo the following the first time you see your doctor after your accident:

  • A complete physical examination
  • An x-ray of your neck and back
  • A CT scan
  • An MRI

(S)he likewise undoubtedly will take your complete medical history.

Whiplash treatment

Unfortunately, your whiplash may be as difficult to treat as it is to diagnose. Assuming your injury is relatively minor, your doctor may suggest ice packs, heating pads, bed rest and/or over-the-counter painkillers. (S)he also may recommend that you wear a cervical collar. If you sustain a more extensive whiplash injury, however, you may need to take long-term prescriptions as well as receive physical therapy, chiropractic spine manipulation, acupuncture or other treatments.

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