Walking away from a vehicle accident feeling okay does not mean that you're injury-free. Sneaky injuries like whiplash may be present, even if they aren't sending off any major alarms. If you suspect you are suffering from whiplash, or if you have received a formal diagnosis, make sure you are taking this condition seriously.
Untreated cases of whiplash may lead to chronic headaches. Chronic head pain can have a lasting effect on both your personal and professional relationships, making it harder to focus at work and even enjoy time with family due to discomfort.
Whiplash involves the sudden manipulation of the muscles in your neck. Neck muscles can over-tighten when left untreated. This strain can lead to tension headaches that seem to never go away.
Discomfort experienced due to whiplash can lead to long-term neck stiffness over time. When any area of the body hurts, it's natural to try to baby the area to minimize manipulation. This coddling only causes the muscles in the neck to stiffen even more.
In addition to stiffness, swelling, more intense pain, and a limited range of motion can develop. These symptoms can travel beyond the neck and impact your shoulders and upper back.
In more severe cases, whiplash that goes without treatment can also cause ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus. Depending on just how hard the head is jarred, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ, can result.
TMJ occurs when the temporomandibular joint, the hinge that connects the skull and jawbone, slightly falls out of adjustment. Simply hitting the back of your head on the headrest can lead to this injury. For some people, a humming sound might be what they experience.
What Treatment Looks Like
Treatment for whiplash involves a multi-step approach. In the initial stage, the goal is generally to reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation can significantly minimize discomfort and improve mobility. The next phase of treatment includes techniques that involve stretching and manual manipulation.
The goal of this phase is to eliminate pain and return the muscles to an optimal range of motion. Just how quickly you move through these phases and how long they last is dependent on the severity of your whiplash.
A whiplash injury should not have a long-term effect on your life. Your willingness to follow a treatment plan is how you can ensure it does not. Take your diagnosis seriously and work through treatment. To learn more, contact a chiropractor who specializes in auto accident injury treatment.