Whiplash injury is the most common type of injury sustained following a car accident. It occurs when the ligaments and tendons in the neck are stretched and strained due to the sudden, vigorous movement of the head backwards, forwards, or sideways.
In severe whiplash cases, the spine or spinal cord may also be damaged. In severe car accidents, first aid may be necessary.
Most whiplash strains are caused by car accidents where the car is hit from behind or from the side by another vehicle. Low velocity impacts (minor car accidents that occur at very low speeds) can also cause a whiplash injury.
The most frequent complaints among whiplash sufferers are:
- headaches and
- stiffness in the neck, the back of the head and sometimes the shoulders.
These symptoms appear within the first couple of days after the accident and can take anything between a few days to a few weeks to pass. However, as with all strain injuries the pain can last up to several months.
The extent of a whiplash injury depends on factors such as the weight of the cars, the angle of impact, the position of the front seats at the time of the accident, etc.
What can I do to relieve whiplash?
- Use an ice bag - in the first 24 hours after suffering a whiplash injury, an ice bag should be applied to the neck for 20 minutes at a time to help relieve inflammation. Make sure you wrap the ice bag in a towel or cloth to avoid direct contact between the skin and the ice.
- Exercise - To prevent the neck from stiffening up, you should gently exercise it as soon as you feel you are able to without too much discomfort, and gradually try to increase the range of neck movements. Studies have shown that you are more likely to make a quicker recovery if you do regular neck exercises, and keep your neck active rather than resting it for long periods in a collar.
- Medicine - Paracetamol is often sufficient, but some people find that anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen work better. A stronger painkiller such as codeine can be taken if anti-inflammatory medication is not suitable or does not work well. Codeine is often taken in addition to paracetamol. Muscle relaxants such as diazepam are sometimes prescribed for a short period to help relieve the pain caused by tense neck muscles.
- Posture – make sure you keep a good posture when sitting and walking. Try to keep your back straight at all times with your shoulders braced slightly backwards.
If the pain in your neck, or any other part of your body, persists beyond 4-6 weeks, or becomes worse despite taking some form of normal medication, you should consult your GP.
|Blow-up seat belts will give greater crash protection in rear car seats - Thu, 28 Jun 2012|
|Advanced drivers more aware of potential hazards on the road - Wed, 27 Jun 2012|
|Travellers find child seats hired with a rental car are substandard - Wed, 20 Jun 2012|