Are you suffering from whiplash?
Personal Injury Lawyer
Have you ever experienced a sudden transfer of energy in your neck causing your head to jerk back and snap forward? If so, you have experienced whiplash. The sudden forceful movement in whiplash causes the structures of the neck to abruptly stiffen and bend beyond the normal range of motion. This injury may result in neck pain, neck stiffness, shoulder pain, low back pain, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue. While a car accident is the most common cause of whiplash, there are many ways someone could develop a whiplash injury. Falls, amusement park rides, and any type of movement that suddenly jerks the head can cause whiplash injuries.
According to Harvard Health, more than a million Americans suffer from whiplash each year. Recovery can take weeks or even months, and for half of the affected individuals, neck pain continues for years. In severe cases about 10% of individuals who suffer from whiplash, end up having chronic neck pain that interferes with their quality of life. Though accidents happen, there are ways to decrease your odds of getting whiplash.
The importance of headrests
Majority of whiplash injuries occur from automobile accidents, therefore understanding the importance of headrests may come in handy. When properly adjusted, headrests can significantly lower the risk of neck injuries. Most car manuals provide information on how to properly adjust the headrest to your height. However here are a few tips on how to properly adjust your vehicle head restraint:
- Headrests should be positioned high enough to support the driver and the passenger’s head.
- The top of the headrest should be adjusted so that it is even with the top of the head. If the headrest does not reach the top of the head, make sure it is on the highest setting. Similarly, if the top of the headrest sits higher than the top of the head on the lowest setting, leave headrest at the lowest setting.
- Adjust the seat and headrest so that the distance from the head to the headrest is as little as possible. The recommendation is less than 4 inches.
- Adjusting your seat angle can also help provide additional support and shorten the distance between the head and the headrest.
Taking advantage of a properly adjusted headrest can greatly decrease your risk of a whiplash injury in an automobile accident. However even with the greatest precautions, injuries can still occur.
How to improve recovery
After the injury first occurs ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage the pain and swelling. Short-term use of a neck collar may help some individuals. However studies have shown that long-term use of neck collars could interfere with the healing process, and cause neck muscles to atrophy.
Stretching that involves the head to gently turn side to side may be helpful to increase range of motion. Applying heat to the affected area before exercising and stretching can help to loosen up the muscles. After being cleared by a healthcare professional, isometric exercises that strengthen the muscles can also help to relieve stress of the damaged tissue and vertebrae.
Alternative medicine including chiropractic manipulation and massage can also help to alleviate symptoms and aid the healing process. If you are suffering from whiplash, consider seeing the chiropractic doctor for complementary therapies.