Whiplash is a serious neck injury that develops when your head is forcefully thrown backward and forward, damaging various structures within the neck, including the bones, ligaments, muscles and other tissues.
What causes whiplash?
Whiplash can occur whenever the muscles and ligaments in your neck are strained due to an aggressive back-and-forth movement. This injury is most likely to occur in the following circumstances:
At the Orthohealing Center, we treat many athletes who sustain whiplash injuries while playing sports, usually after a collision or tackle. This injury is especially common in sports like football, karate and boxing.
Auto accidents are an extremely common cause of whiplash among our Los Angeles patients. Those most at risk are involved in collisions in which a stopped motor vehicle is struck from behind.
A whiplash injury can also occur during a violent physical assault. Sustaining a punch to the face or being shaken can seriously injure the neck in some cases.
If you sustain a whiplash injury, symptoms will begin to appear within 24 hours, and may last for a few days to several months. In most cases, you will experience:
- Neck pain that worsens with movement
- Pain in the shoulder, upper back and/or arms
- Decreased range of motion
- Blurred vision
Our physiatrists diagnose whiplash injuries based on a physical examination. To begin, we’ll ask you questions about the injury you sustained, as well as the severity, duration and frequency of your symptoms. We will then examine your head, neck and arms to check for tender areas, reflexes and strength, as well as to evaluate your range of motion and determine how much movement causes pain.
In general, the results of this examination will allow us to make a diagnosis of whiplash. However, if it’s possible that another condition could be contributing to your pain, we may order imaging tests, like an x-ray, MRI or a CT scan, to rule out other problems.
Premier treatment for your whiplash injury
In treating whiplash for our Los Angeles patients, our goal is to reduce pain, repair the damage and restore your normal range of motion. For minor whiplash injuries, this can be accomplished with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers as the area heals itself. However, more substantial injuries will likely require a more proactive approach.
The reality is that the damage following a whiplash injury can be extensive. If the ligaments were simply stretched too far or the joint itself is damaged, the neck may not be able to heal on its own, resulting in chronic pain and long-lasting symptoms. When this occurs, we may recommend image guided trigger point injections into painful muscles, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy or bone marrow stem cell therapy – treatments that leverage the power of growth factors and your body’s own regenerative cells to stimulate the healing process. We have had incredible success using these therapies to treat whiplash among our Beverly Hills patients – especially those with chronic cases that are unresponsive to conservative treatment approaches.