Worried about whiplash? Check for these 5 common symptoms:
- Unexplained aches & weaknesses
- Energy or mood distrubance
- Pain radiating down your arm
- Neck Pain or stiffness
Many times after an auto accident you know immediately. You go to turn your head and a stinging pain shoots out. Aching and tightness soon fallow and their is no doubt you have experienced whiplash.
Other times you are unsure. Everything happens so quickly and your adrenaline is pumping and your neck may feel stiff but pain hasn’t set in. A day or two later you notice headaches or numbness or tingling down the arms or maybe that you are just fatigued. These are all signs of whiplash. Whiplash left untreated can lead to long term pain and loss of range of motion.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash happens when your head is quickly jolted forward (hyperflexion) or backward (hyperextension). Since your head can weigh over 10 pounds any sudden jolt on your neck can put tremendous stress on the structures of your neck on your neck, causing:
- Muscles and tendon strain or tears
- Torn or sprained ligaments
- Damaged nerves
- Dislocation (in more extreme cases)
- Fractured vertebrae (in more extreme cases)
Whiplash can happen in many different situations including car crashes, contact sports, and bike accidents.
It is especially important to seek care if you notice any of the following symptoms after a potential whiplash incident.
This one seems obvious and is the most common symptom after whiplash. Often times neck pain does not show up for a couple of days after an accident. Even if the pain or stiffness is bearable, it’s a good idea to get an expert evaluation. While many times the neck pain will eventually subside not properly addressing the issue can lead to long term problems down the road.
Headaches, especially tension headaches radiating from the area where your spine meets the base of your skull, are often associated with whiplash. Many patients that report suffering from headaches prior will notice an increase in frequency or intensity of their headaches.
The important thing is to pay close attention to a new pattern of headaches, or a changing pattern, and let your care provider know what’s happening. Learn more about chiropractic care for headaches and helpful tips
3) Pain radiating down your arm
The nerves that travel down your arms begin in the neck. So when their is trauma to the neck some of the nerves can be impinged. Common symptoms of this include:
- A dull burning sensation in one or both arms
- Sharp/hot jolts in one or both arms when you move certain ways
- A sudden change in strength in one or both arms or hands
- Numbness or tingling in your arms or hands
These symptoms may not be immediate but can take a few days just as with all of the other symptoms. Again it is important to monitor how your symptoms change daily.
4) Energy or mood disturbances
It’s not uncommon for a whiplash victim’s to say they feel a little foggy or they just feel off. In fact, victims often report reduced energy levels and mood disturbances, such as depression or anxiety. They also can struggle with nervousness or anxiousness when driving a car or being on the highway again. These symptoms are often associated with chronic pain, but not necessarily. Be sure to seek care if you note changes in your energy or mood following a whiplash incident.
5) New, unexplainable aches or weaknesses
Given all of the nerves and muscles in your neck and upper back and that the forces also involve your head, whiplash can be a tricky injury. It may seem like symptoms would be mostly limited to your neck, but that’s not always the case. Depending on how the injury happens, you could experience associated pain in your mid or lower back.
For example, if you experience a car accident while sitting or leaning at an angle and/or the seatbelt is not positioned properly over your waist your pelvis may twist on impact leading to hip or lower-back injuries. The shoulder belt can also cause injuries to the shoulder or mid back when you twist forward on impact.
Keep in mind that while some symptoms like soreness may appear immediately after an accident, other more serious symptoms like pain in other areas, dizziness or trouble sleeping may appear days later.
If you have any further questions about whiplash or pain after and auto accident don’t hesitate to give us a call at 678-494-9668