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Whiplash Injury

After a motor vehicle accident; many patients have symptoms such as neck pain which may present directly after the injury or delay for several days. They have suffered from whiplash injury which is a soft tissue injury to the neck. It is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck, usually because of sudden extension and flexion. The disorder commonly occurs as the result of an automobile accident and may include injury to inter vertebral joints, discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots.

In addition to neck pain, other symptoms may include neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments, headache, dizziness, abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling, or shoulder or back pain. In addition, some patients may experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions such as memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness; irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression.

Treatments include pain medications, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a cervical collar to be worn for 2 to 3 weeks. Range of motion exercises, physical therapy, and cervical traction may also be used. Supplemental heat application may relieve muscle tension.

Generally, prognosis for individuals with whiplash is good if accurate diagnosis is made and treated early. The neck and head pain clears within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover within 3 months after the injury, however, some may continue to have residual neck pain and headaches.

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