Know the Symptoms of Whiplash: This Injury May Not Show Up on Tests

Whiplash is often associated with auto injuries, but it can also occur in other settings, such as contact sports or physical abuse. In fact, any time your head is rocked back and forth violently, your risk for developing whiplash is fairly high, but identifying the problem can be tricky. And this means you may not be getting the care you need.

At Buckhead Injury Wellness Institute, our team of pain management and regenerative medicine experts understands the difficulties that come with diagnosing whiplash and we believe that patient education is a good first step.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the more common signs of whiplash and why it may not show up in traditional testing.

The problem with diagnosing whiplash is…

One of the hurdles when it comes to whiplash is that the injury can often be difficult to spot using traditional diagnostic imaging. Whiplash occurs when your head is rocked back and forth, which strains the soft tissues in your neck, chiefly your muscles and ligaments.

With traditional diagnostic imaging like X-rays, we’re able to easily spot problems in your hard tissues, such as bone fractures. Since whiplash involves mainly your soft tissues, however, the problem may not be as evident.

For this reason, it’s important that you know the signs of whiplash so that you can receive the proper treatment.

The common signs of whiplash

The symptoms of whiplash vary in terms of severity, onset, and duration, but the more common signs include:

These symptoms typically develop within the first 24 hours after your trauma, but some patients report the onset of symptoms weeks, months, and even years later.

The signs of chronic whiplash

As we mentioned, not everyone follows the same timeline when it comes to whiplash. Some of our patients report more chronic issues with:

If you’re experiencing any of these issues and you’re unsure as to whether they stem from previous trauma, we urge you to come see us so that we can investigate further.

Diagnosing whiplash

Whether you’re experiencing acute or chronic neck problems, our goal is to determine whether whiplash may be to blame. To do this, we perform an extensive review of your symptoms, paying close attention to their severity and onset.

While whiplash is tough to spot using advanced imaging, it’s not to say that these types of diagnostic tools can’t play a key role in your diagnosis. First, with an X-ray, we can rule out problems like arthritis or cervical stenosis. 

If your X-rays don’t provide us with any clues, we may turn to a CT scan or an MRI, which are far better tools for evaluating soft-tissue problems such as inflammation.

If these imaging tools reveal nothing, that still doesn’t mean that whiplash isn’t present and we will move forward with a treatment plan to bring you relief from your neck pain. This plan may include:

The bottom line is that it’s important that you seek help when you have neck pain of any kind. To get started, contact our office in Atlanta, Georgia, to set up an appointment.

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