What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury commonly caused by car accidents, falls, and/or contact sports. It results from a quick jerking motion that forces the neck beyond its normal range of motion. It may lead to chronic neck pain and headaches overtime. Whiplash is also known as cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome or “CAD”.
What are the causes?
The head is suddenly and violently whipped back and forth causing the cervical spine to be hyperextended, or forced past its normal range of motion. The joints, ligaments, discs and muscles that support the spine may be injured, resulting in pain. The painful sensation from these structures may excite nerves in the brainstem and spinal cord which can lead to headaches. These whiplash headaches may become chronic in nature. They are otherwise known as cervicogenic headaches.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may occur immediately, or may occur several days after the injury. Neck pain is the most common symptom. Patients may also have stiffness, dizziness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, burning or prickling sensations, jaw pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain. Headaches may also form that can be indistinguishable from any other headache. The symptoms are usually made worse with turning and bending of the head and neck.
What treatments are available?
Treatment options may include anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, physical therapy, and cervical facet injections. For patients that develop chronic headaches, cervical facet blocks and radiofrequency ablation, may provide long-term relief.