You neck is essentially an extension of your spine, with the support structure composed of vertebrae from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs are found between the vertebrae to absorb any impact between the bones. Combined with the neck bones, the neck muscles support the weight of your head, as well as support motion. Any injury or abnormality can cause pain or tightness in the neck.
One of the primary causes of neck pain is poor posture. Sitting long hours at a desk without changing position can lead to a strained or tight neck. Also, sleeping in an awkward position can cause neck pain and stiffness. However, the most severe neck injuries are often caused by injury from auto accidents, sports or bad falls. If you have a neck injury, it is important you see a specialist immediately. Neck injuries be fractured bones or even damage to the spinal cord.
What is whiplash?
Neck injury or strain is called whiplash. An abrupt jerking of the head leads to neck pain which may be chronic sometime. Whiplash occurs when the head suddenly moves backward, forward or sideways with huge force. Whiplash is as a result of damaged or stretched soft tissues in the neck. Whiplash injury is most common during road accidents. Whiplash injury refers to damage to both soft tissues and bone structures. It is not a life threatening condition but can cause a sustained partial disability.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Some people may not experience the symptoms for 24 hours after the injury. If you have a whiplash injury then within few days whiplash may develop symptoms including headaches, neck pain, stiffness, shoulder pain, dizziness, low back pain, numbness or pain in arm/hand, sleep disturbance, irritability, fatigue, difficulty in moving your head, poor concentration and chronic pain in head, neck or shoulder.
What causes whiplash?
- Road accidents and traffic collisions
- Sudden head blow during sports
- Fall or slip where head is jerked suddenly
- Head struck by a solid object
- Physical abuse like being shaken or punched
- Cycling accidents
- Horse riding
What are the treatments for whiplash?
Usually, whiplash gets better its own within some time. To treat the severe conditions and for recovery, there are some treatment options. You may use ice packs after the injury to reduce swelling and pain. Doctors recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including naproxen and ibuprofen to relieve the symptoms. When over the counter medications are unable to work then the doctor may ask to take necessary muscle relaxants and prescribed painkillers to reduce muscle spasm and pain. For some patients, doctors recommend collar or neck brace for few hours because they can weaken the neck muscles. If the initial swelling has gone then you can use moist heat, warm wet towel on your neck or just take a hot bath for pain relief. Other noninvasive treatments include massage therapy, physical therapy, exercise, relaxation techniques, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. Massage therapy helps to improve the mobility and relieve the muscles. These therapies have no side effects, significantly reduce the pain and help in fast recovery.