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In some cases, severe neck pain can be caused by illness or degenerative conditions, such as spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis. However, many instances of neck discomfort are the result of excessive strain, stress or pressure on the bones and joints in the spinal cord.

One relatively common source of ongoing neck pain can be whiplash caused by an automobile accident or similar collision. Here is some essential information and statistics on the nature of this condition and how it can impact your overall spinal health.

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Fundamentals of Whiplash

According to the Cleveland Clinic, whiplash is a non-medical term referring to injury of the soft tissues located in the neck and shoulders. Also known as a neck sprain or neck strain, this physical ailment is often the result of sudden, extreme movement of the head and neck, which can cause serious damage to intervertebral discs, joints, ligaments, muscles and related nerve endings.

In many cases, whiplash occurs when a driver is struck from behind in a rear-end collision. This abrupt impact can force the head and neck to jerk forward and backward quickly, straining and stretching the neck beyond its normal range of motion. Additionally, non-vehicular collisions that may happen during contact sports, falls or physical attacks may also cause whiplash. While some individuals who experience whiplash may have minor discomfort, more serious cases can cause debilitating injury.

Symptoms and Complications of Whiplash

The Mayo Clinic reports that whiplash can lead to a range of symptoms, often occurring within a day or so of the accident or collision.

Patients commonly report issues such as intense headaches, joint and muscle pain, trouble moving the neck, tiredness, vision problems and lightheadedness. Additionally, individuals may have cognitive and neurological issues, including lack of concentration, short-term memory problems, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, frequent bad moods and a consistent ringing sensation in the ears.

While many cases of whiplash are only moderately severe - lasting no more than a few months - some people may experience long-term discomfort and neck pains. Significant injury to the joints, discs, ligaments or muscles of the neck and upper back can leave certain patients in pain for as long as two years. Furthermore, doctors may not be able to find a specific reason why these issues persist for so long.

Beyond these direct symptoms, Spine-Health.com notes that whiplash can lead to complications such as joint dysfunction and disc herniation. Joint dysfunction may cause joints in either the spine or extremities to become weaker and experience limited mobility. Whiplash can also force an intervertebral disc to rupture from the spine, impacting nearby muscles and nerves. In rare cases, injury of the nerves can interfere with coordinated physical movements due to extreme pain.

As this area of the body can be extremely fragile and prone to compounding damage, using a holistic form of treatment such as a DR-HO’S® Neck Comforter can provide added support for the upper spine, helping you manage your pain during the healing process. Alternately, a DR-HO’S® Neck Comforter can relieve pressure by gently extending the vertebrae in the neck to minimize the effects of compression while allowing the neck muscles to stretch and relax.

Risk Factors and Statistics of Whiplash

Virtually anyone can experience whiplash in the aftermath of a car accident or high-velocity impact, but certain people are more prone to the condition than others. Spine-Health.com reports that individuals who are not particularly physically fit or in good health are more likely to deal with aches and pains in the event of a crash, so staying in shape can improve resistance to whiplash.

Additionally, neck muscles and joints are weaker in women than men, putting women at greater risk of experiencing whiplash. The same is true for older people, particularly those over age 65. Other factors that can influence the condition are preexisting spinal injuries, being in an accident while driving a smaller vehicle, improper seat belt use and delay in seeking treatment for the neck injury.

According to a 2008 study conducted by experts at the Spine Research Laboratory at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University, whiplash generally occurs during an impact where speed changes are less than or equal to about 9 miles per hour.

Looking at data collected from 105 minor rear-end automobile collisions in the U.S., the researchers found that only people in the struck vehicle reported neck pain. Furthermore, 40.6 percent of cases reported significant pain in the neck region based on the ninth edition of the International Classification of Diseases diagnostic codes, while 22.5 percent and 10.2 percent experienced pain in the lower and middle back, respectively.

If you recently experienced whiplash or a similar form of neck injury, you should be sure to speak with your doctor or primary care provider about the nature and extent of your condition. However, if you're reluctant to undergo traditional treatments, such as using prescription pain medications, opting for natural remedies and products from DR-HO’S® can provide you with the pain relief you've been looking for.

Learn more about Neck Pain with the following resources:

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