Ligaments are strong, flexible bands of connective tissue that connect the bones in a joint to each other. The cervical spine is made of the seven vertebral bones in your neck, which are connected by ligaments. When a neck ligament stretches farther than it should, neck sprain occurs. Whiplash is a form of neck sprain, and is one of the most common neck injuries caused by car accidents.
Because severe whiplash sprains can tear a ligament, it’s important to see a doctor if you have experienced a whiplash injury. The orthopedic team at Dignity Health North State can diagnose your severity of whiplash in Northern California. Use our online search tool to Find a Doctor at Dignity Health.
Pain that worsens with movement is the primary symptom of whiplash. The pain can take several days to develop or start immediately following the injury. Other signs and symptoms of whiplash include:
- Muscle spasms in your neck or shoulders
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Neck stiffness
Because whiplash can also include spinal nerve damage, many patients also experience symptoms in their arms and hands. This can include weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash is caused by the rapid movement of the head back and forth due to a sudden force. The force is usually from some type of trauma. Rear-end motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause. Other causes include physical assault and sports injuries.
Whiplash Treatment at Dignity Health North State
In order to determine the severity of your injury, it’s important to seek urgent care for whiplash. Your doctor may want to check for additional injury, such as broken vertebrae, which may require an X-ray.
If you have been in a car accident, Dignity Health offers emergency services for trauma in Northern California. If you need to go to the ER for whiplash, use InQuicker, our ER waiting service, to select your estimated hospital arrival time, then wait at home until it is your turn to be seen.
Treatment of whiplash includes:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Soft neck collar (brace)
- Range-of-motion exercises
Prescription muscle relaxants and physical therapy may be necessary in more severe cases. Generally, whiplash heals within three months. At Dignity Health North State, our orthopedic team is dedicated to restoring your range of motion and alleviating your pain.
Dignity Health’s orthopedic specialists offer expert treatment for whiplash injuries in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.