Whiplash is a neck injury, sometimes also called a neck strain or a neck sprain, caused by sudden acceleration/deceleration of the neck. When that happens, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck become over-stretched and, in severe cases, begin to tear.
Most people think of car accidents when they think of whiplash, and while that’s a very common cause, you can also get whiplash from things like falling down the stairs, or whipping your hair back and forth like Willow Smith.
Most whiplash symptoms don’t show up for at least a day after the initial injury. However, most whiplash sufferers will begin to experience at least one of the following symptoms in the days after the accident, and may even find that the symptoms worsen as time passes.
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Pain in the upper back, between the shoulder blades
- Pain or numbness down the arm
- Ear ringing
The soft tissues, after having been injured, will begin to inflame. That inflammation is why it’s very important to ice your neck. Heat will only make the inflammation worse, and needs to be avoided for the first several days while the injury is in its acute phase.
NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, are anti-inflammatory drugs, and may be prescribed by your doctor to help with both the pain and the inflammation.
After that, talk to your massage therapist. Gentle exercises, stretching, and massage at the site of injury can help reduce pain and increase range of motion in your neck. Together, you and your massage therapist will come up with a treatment plan that works best for your injury, so you can feel better as soon as possible.