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Is Whiplash Injury an Emergency Condition? An Insight Into the Most Common Questions

crossfit neck pain

It is an undeniable fact that an unfortunate event can happen to us at any time. For instance, while we are on the roads, there is always a chance of meeting an accident. Depending upon the intensity of trauma, physical injuries take more time to heal and ultimately leave the victim in more pain for an extended period.

Traumatic car accidents leave a greater impact on individuals, causing them to be a victim of major injuries. Out of all the auto injuries, whiplash injuries are the most prevalent ones. Considering the mentioned aspects, provided below is a though insight into neck injuries, the way if effects, the associated symptoms, and its treatment in orthopedic hospitals.  

Whiplash injury

It is a neck injury that is caused when the neck and head of a person move forcefully back and forth in a repetitive manner. This severe injury involves damage to the muscles, nerves, cervical disc, and other soft tissues surrounding the neck.


The main cause that we have already mentioned in the car accident. The mechanism of injury involves sudden acceleration and deceleration, so in medical terminology, it is also named Cervical Acceleration and Deceleration Syndrome (CAD). Most commonly, it happens when the victim has been rear-ended. The severity of the auto car injury is related to the severity of the symptoms, but it is not true for all types of car accidents. If any unfortunate trauma occurs in a well-designed car, then the car is flexible enough to absorb the forces and do not cause any significant damage to the driver.

Apart from car accidents, there are several other causes too. The most common ones are listed below:

  1. Bungee jumping
  2. Roller Coaster
  3. Contact injuries in sports, e.g., contact injury while playing football.
  4. Falls while horse riding events and skiing

What are the symptoms?

There is an extensive list of its symptoms. The most prominent symptom is neck pain. The intensity of pain can be mild, but it can give tingling sensations, as nerves are also damaged in the accident. It can cause excruciating pain, and hence, you need to consult an auto injury doctor who can help you by providing the necessary treatment. In addition to pain, you can feel stiffness in the neck that limits the range of motion of that area. Also, shoulder and back pain, radiating pain and numbness in the arm and hand, blurred vision, tiredness, and sleep problems are also associated with this injury. Some individuals can affect mental abilities and may cause memory problems and the inability to concentrate on certain tasks. 

These symptoms can be present for a long time, and sometimes it becomes complicated and hard to diagnose. Moreover, the course of recovery also varies from patient to patient and the intensity of the injury.

Some patients recover within three months, while some need a long whiplash treatment protocol for recovery. The older population and females are at risk of taking a long time for recovery. The pain at the time of injury matters a lot, like those who face intense pain at the time of collision usually take a longer time to recover.

When to visit an orthopedic hospital

If you have any red sign, then do not ignore it and make a visit to the orthopedic hospital to consult the doctor, as it can become an emergency situation; these red signs are;

  • Excruciating pain together with tingling sensations in the upper limb
  • Balance issues and coordination problems
  • Instability of the neck
  • Issues related to mental health such as irritability, memory loss, sleeping problems, and depression


An expert clinician or auto injury doctor makes a perfect diagnosis of the condition by ruling out other conditions. So, here the differential diagnosis played an integral role, and every practitioner should practice it while managing a condition.

Here in this injury, the diagnosis is not simple and clear. The doctor has to make a clear difference between psychological conditions and physical conditions. But today’s medical community better understands the conditions and apply evidence-based practice to manage a patient. 

Following are the main steps involved in making a diagnosis:

  • Take the patient’s complete history. 

Take the complete history of patients, for example, history of trauma, family history, medication history. 

  • Physical examination

1. Observation of patient to see postural misalignments

2. Palpation to see tightness and tenderness

  • Range of motion

To see the degree of movement allowed by the neck to move it in any direction.

In addition to these findings, he also checks the reflexes and muscle power to make a proper diagnosis.

Relating findings of diagnostic imaging, i.e., X-rays, MRI, CT-scan to the history of trauma

Treatment options available 

If the injury is mild to moderate, then it can easily be managed and treated at home. With that well catered to, the injured person s able to get rid of the pain by taking all the necessary measures. Mentioned below are some of the most viable techniques that can leverage to treat the injury at home.

  1. Taking adequate rest 

First of all, it is advised to take rest in order to avoid exacerbation of pain. It is commonly assumed that pain is usually aggravated by movement, so to prevent this exacerbation, you need to put yourself in a state of rest. It also gives more healing time to the site of injury.

  1. Using proper healing measures 

When the injury is acute, then apply ice to the site where swelling is noted. Icing helps to constrict the vessels and reduce the pain and swelling associated with the injury. Once the node is settled, you can apply a hot pack to get further relief.

  1. Additional factors

You can use over-the-counter medications that mainly involve nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These NSAIDS are readily available in stores and provide relief from pain.

Medical treatment

If the pain is very severe, then you need professional assistance or medical treatment to recover from the injury. Here the role of auto injury doctor comes into play. Most of the experts use a combination of treatment options to manage and take control over this condition. But, there is also a need to look for a multidisciplinary approach to manage the condition. The team of professionals in an orthopedic hospital includes physical therapists, chiropractors, doctors, and orthopedic surgeons, who collectively decide and proceed accordingly. 

So with the help of exercises supervised by the physical therapists, manipulations of joints done by chiropractors, medications prescribed by the physician, and if needed with surgical management, you can treat this injury. The ultimate goal of all these conditions is to provide you with relief. Considering all the intricacies associated with all the procedures, this can only be handled professionally by health experts and specialists who are experienced in dealing with such traumatic incidents. Now it’s up to the patient what he can do to lead a healthy lifestyle that will be beneficial for his neck pain.

Prognosis for patients 

Its prognosis is bad in older adults. They have less immunity and are already suffering from degenerative disorder, women and post-traumatic stress disorder, and those who have got severe pain at the time of injury. Moreover, in a person with some other clinical conditions, the prognosis of the disease is long and hence needs patience and cooperation of the patient. 


One of the most common automobile injuries is whiplash injury- a neck injury caused by the forceful movement of the neck and affects the quality of life of an individual. The patient presents to the orthopedic specialist with pain and limited mobility of the neck. He, in turn, assesses the patient and makes a thorough diagnosis of the condition. After getting the proper diagnosis, the patient seeks treatment. It can be treated at home if the condition is not severe, but for severe conditions with excruciating pain, it is recommended to seek medical advice. The specialist offers a bunch of treatment options and applies the best evidence-based treatment to the patient to improve his quality of life. Further, the prognosis is made according to his age, gender, and post-traumatic condition.

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