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Whiplash pain occurs when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward, then forward, placing the cervical spine under extreme stress.
Whiplash injuries are typically the result of an auto accident, particularly when a person is rear-ended, but can also be caused by sports, horseback riding, riding a roller coaster, or any other high-impact activities. In a whiplash injury, extreme acceleration-deceleration forces are applied to the patient’s cervical spine, which is why whiplash is medically known as CAD syndrome, for cervical acceleration-deceleration.
Neck pain is the hallmark result of whiplash. Depending on the level of pain, patients have described whiplash pain as being like “pins and needles,” all the way to “excruciating.” Unfortunately, because whiplash is difficult to definitively prove, the injury has gotten a bad name, and many people tend to be dismissive of the very real pain resulting from a whiplash injury. Symptoms of whiplash include:
Whiplash symptoms can be complex and long-lasting for some, although other will completely recover within three months. There are certain factors which can result in a longer recovery time from a whiplash injury, including: severe pain at the time the injury occurs, PTSD, being female and being elderly. Some people find there is a delay between the time of the injury, and the time whiplash symptoms occur. In the case of an auto accident, the body floods with adrenaline when the accident occurs, and this adrenaline can mask the symptoms of whiplash until later, when the adrenaline wears off.
As noted, whiplash—like other soft tissue injuries—can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor will take a complete patient history and perform a thorough physical examination in order to diagnose your whiplash. Your doctor will check for abnormalities or misalignment in your neck or posture, will check your neck for tightness or tenderness, and will test the rotation, up and down and side-to-side movement of your neck. If fracture or a neurological problem is suspected, you may be sent for x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury, the pain specialists at Seattle Pain can help. We will perform a comprehensive assessment of your injury, then will use traditional and non-traditional treatments to help relieve your pain.
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At Seattle Pain, our primary goal is to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. We believe in treating the whole patient – and not just the injury. You do not have to live in pain. Call us today.