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Whiplash: A Pain in the Neck

As anyone who has ever held a newborn baby knows, the human neck is a fragile appendage. What babies lack in physical power they make up for in intellectual prowess – born with highly developed brains, the weight of the head far outweighs the initially flimsy capabilities of the neck. Weeks into life, in fact, the neck of an infant must remain supported in order to avoid injury.

 

Thankfully, human adults are able to walk around without supportive assistance, resting assured that their necks are capable of supporting their (in comparison with the the rest of the animal kingdom) enormous brains. However, throughout life, the neck remains a delicate entity, vulnerable to sprains, strains and fractures from a multitude of dangers.

 

The most perilous of them all? Your family vehicle.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year, over 1 million cases of whiplash are reported. (Many experts, however, believe that this may be a gross underestimate of incidents, suggesting a more likely 3 million cases.)

 

What is Whiplash?

 

First coined in conjunction with the widespread advent of motor vehicles in 1928, whiplash (so named in deference to the cracking of a whip) is an injury that results from the sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. Though any traumatic injury may pose a risk of whiplash, the condition is most common in victims of car accidents – so widespread, in fact, that the treatment of whiplash supports a booming $30 billion a year industry in the United States.

 

Symptoms of whiplash may include:

 

– Neck pain and stiffness

– Worsening of pain with neck movement

– Loss of range of motion in the neck

– Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull

– Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms

– Tingling or numbness in the arm

– Fatigue

– Dizziness

 

Interestingly, whiplash is most prevalent in rear-end collisions, in which a sudden impact forces the neck forward and back in rapid succession. It is less common in side impact collisions, and least prevalent in frontal impacts.

 

Treatment

 

The good news? Whiplash is not a life-threatening injury, and in most cases is resolved within several months. With proper treatment and care, healing is both expedited and long-term. However, rapid and expert assessment after initial injury is crucial to long-term rehabilitation. Fortunately, the multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals at PROS Miami is well trained to assist you in recovery, ensuring that that pain in the neck that’s here today, is gone tomorrow!

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