Whiplash is one of the most common kinds of physical injury. In fact, over two million Americans experience whiplash every year, which is also known as neck strain or sprain.
Whiplash occurs when your head suddenly snaps forward and backward – a whip-like motion that over-stretches the joints, ligaments, and muscles of the upper back and neck.
While this injury is very common and well-known, there are some things about it that a lot of people don’t know. And if you don’t know an illness completely, you can’t cure it perfectly.
Therefore, we have 5 facts for you about whiplash that most people are not familiar with. Let’s get right into it.
1. Car accident is not the only cause of whiplash
The common knowledge is that whiplash is caused by front- and rear- end car accidents. However, that’s only partially true.
While whiplash car accident is the most common cause of this injury, it is not the only one. This painful injury can occur anytime due a wide range of reasons.
Apart from traffic collisions, you can contract whiplash from a fall and high-impact sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, boxing, football, and gymnastics.
2. Whiplash does not require a lot of force or speed
Since whiplash can be a bit of a serious injury at times, people just assume that whiplash takes a lot of force to occur, and that’s not true.
In fact, in many cases, whiplash injury from automobile accidents occur at a speed as low as 5 to 10 mph.
In whiplash caused by traffic collisions, the severity of injury does not depend on whether or not you were going at a fast speed.
It actually depends on whether or not you are properly restrained, which is exactly the reason why anyone riding in a car or any vehicle should wear a seatbelt or be in a size-appropriate safety seat.
Wearing a seatbelt can significantly reduce the chances of contracting whiplash.
3. Aging increases the risk of whiplash
Aging comes with a lot of problems, and one of those is increasing the risk of contracting whiplash.
Older people, especially those who are already living with neck issues, such as arthritis, may experience more serious and severe whiplash injury than younger individuals.
Similarly, they are at more risk of contracting this injury than young people. That is because as people get older, their movement becomes more and more limited.
They lose the flexibility and strength of their muscles, their discs and ligaments don’t remain as stretchy as they were in their younger years, and their reflexes are all gone.
At such an age, if they experience the back and forth whipping of their neck, it can potentially be more damaging and destructive. So, as you get older, you should be more and more careful about your movements and safety.
4. You should never shrug off the symptoms
Whiplash is a wide spectrum, and everyone experiences it differently. Commonly, neck pain occurs immediately after you contract a whiplash injury.
However, some people don’t experience any pain and soreness until after a few hours, days, or even weeks.
The later surfacing of symptoms does not indicate a more severe case of injury, but it is highly recommended that you don’t ignore the pain, regardless of whenever it starts, and visit a whiplash doctor at the first hint of the pain.
A neck doctor says, “Neck pain following even minor mishaps should be evaluated at your doctor’s office or the emergency room.”
When you immediately visit a doctor’s office, they take your imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI scans, as part of the initial examinations to make sure there are no fractures or dislocations.
In most cases of whiplash, the pain of whiplash goes away on its own within a month.
However, if it stays longer or gets worse with time, or if you develop other symptoms – headache, fatigue, blurred vision, shoulder pain, dizziness, or difficulty in concentration, sleeping, and swallowing – you immediately contact a doctor and get professional whiplash treatment.
5. Don’t rest too much
A layman would suggest you to take rest whenever you contract any physical injury. It works in most cases, but not all. Especially in whiplash, rest means rust.
People don’t move around too much when they are going through whiplash because they are afraid of worsening the pain.
But the truth is that resting for more than a few days can make your muscles in the neck, back, and shoulders really stiff and weak, which prolongs the pain and delays the recovery.
As soon as your doctor says that you can, you should return back to the normal routine with normal activities.
That being said, don’t overstep and engage yourself in physically strenuous activities that you wouldn’t do normally, just keep everything normal.
As part of your treatment, your doctor may also prescribe you physical therapy. Physical therapy would help you alleviate symptoms and allow reconditioning of the muscles.
A doctor says, “Even if you have to ease into activity slowly,” he says, “don’t let pain, or fear of pain, keep you from getting on with your life.”
6. Drinking water helps a lot
When you are going through a physical injury, especially whiplash, drinking an adequate amount of water helps more than you would believe. There are multiple reasons for that.
One, drinking water keeps you hydrated, which helps recover your muscles and ligaments quickly. You tend to stay more active and get over fatigue easily.
Two, when you are physically injured and in pain, like whiplash, the doctor prescribes you painkillers and other medications.
These medicines have a warm intensity. Regularly taking them can heat up your body in an unhealthy way – it is one of the side effects of taking medicines.
However, if you drink plenty of water, you can cool off and stay normal.
Moreover, drinking water is important to get all the energy in even when you are not injured or ill, so imagine how critical it would be when you are in all the more in need of energy.
Without a doubt, whiplash is one of the most troubling and painful neck and upper back injuries, depending on how it is caused and how severe it is.
That being said, no matter how severe it is, there are a few things that you need to understand to make sure that you make no mistake that prolong your treatment, delay your recovery, and cause you more pain.
These facts about whiplash are lesser-known, which means everyone might not recommend them to you, so take notes.
First of all, as opposed to the misconception, car accidents are not the only cause of whiplash–other causes are falls, sporting impacts, etc.
Secondly, whiplash doesn’t require a lot of speed when it is caused by car accidents, it can occur at even a speed of 10mph.
As you grow older, you are at more risk of contracting whiplash, and it becomes harder to recover from it.
Whenever you experience neck pain, dizziness or other systems of whiplash, don’t shrug them off and visit a doctor ASAP.
As you are recovering from whiplash, don’t rest too much, try to be active. Last but not the least, drink plenty of water and stay fit.