Whiplash – How do you know and what to do?


Neck strain is often just called whiplash.  Although this is mostly associated with motor vehicle accidents, any impact or blow can cause neck strain.

The symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Pain, decreased range of motion, and tightness in the neck. The muscles may feel hard or knotted.
  • Pain when rocking your head from side to side or backward and forward.
  • Headaches at the base of the skull that radiate towards the forehead.

The onset of whiplash is also not always immediate.  In some cases it may take hours or days before the neck starts to hurt.  There is also a chance that the blow that caused the neck strain could have caused a concussion too.  If you are confused, dizzy, nauseous or excessively sleepy contact your doctor immediately.

Whiplash should heal on its own, but to help your recovery here are a couple of possible treatments:

  • Ice your neck
    • This will reduce pain and swelling. Do this as soon as you can after the initial injury.  Doing this for 20–30 min every 3 – 4 hours for 2–3 days. To prevent your skins from injuring, wrap the ice in a towel or cloth.
  • Take painkillers
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will help alleviate the pain and swelling. However, these medicines may have side effects.  Check with your doctor before taking them in conjunction with any other medication that you might be on.
  • Use a neck brace
    • Only do this if your doctor recommends this cause of action. The neck brace adds support but this should not be worn long-term as this can weaken the muscles in your neck.
  • Apply moist heat to your neck
    • Use warm, wet towels or take a warm bath – only after the initial swelling has gone down. This will alleviate pain and relax the muscles in the neck.

Always remember that you should not move a person who you suspect has a serious neck injury on the scene of an accident.  Call Maponya 911 to attend to the scene – 086 196 0960.

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