Among the most common of car accident injuries, whiplash is suffered by nearly one million Americans each year. Caused by the head being snapped unexpectedly in one direction, whiplash affects the vertebrae and surrounding tissues of the neck and back and aren’t due to any physical contact made to the area.
A rear collision is the likeliest cause for whiplash, but any distortion or hyperextension of the muscles and tissue in this area can lead to whiplash. Because it does not result in visible damage, such as abrasions or bruises, there has been some difficulty in the past in recognizing and treating whiplash.
Following the largest and most concentrated research done regarding whiplash, whiplash injuries were dividing into five categories that range from 0 to 4. Classified under the Quebec Task Force (QTF) system, whiplash categories are based on the presence and severity of various signs that include musculoskeletal and neurological damage, which many practitioners designate via Roman numerals.
Category of Grade II of whiplash occurs in the form of neck pain, stiffness, and/or tenderness. The patient will also suffer from a decreased range of motion.
What Are the Different Category Differences for Whiplash?
As defined by the Quebec Task Force, the clinical symptoms for whiplash are categorized into five grades. Where musculoskeletal signs are indicated, they include a decreased range of motion and a localized tenderness. Neurological signs are a decreased or lack of deep tendon reflexes along with sensory deficits and a general feeling of weakness. For all grades, the patient may experience deafness, dizziness, a headache, memory loss, or a ringing in the ears.
0 No pain in the area, no physical signs visible.
I Pain in the neck along with stiffness and tenderness, but still no physical signs to be seen.
II Neck pain accompanied by musculoskeletal signs.
III Neck pain accompanied by neurological signs.
IV Neck pain and a fracture or dislocation.
What are the Symptoms?
After experiencing whiplash, no matter the grade, you may suffer from neck pain and stiffness or headaches. Pain in the shoulder or between your shoulder blades is also common, along with pain in the lower back. You may feel numbness or pain in your arm or hand. Mentally, many patients experience dizziness and disorientation or difficulty remembering things. Some complain of irritability, exhaustion, and trouble sleeping.
For category II whiplash, you may be feeling a limited range of motion and tenderness in the area along with neck pain.
Are the Signs of Whiplash Ever Delayed?
Whiplash symptoms may not be felt until 24 hours or more after the initial injury. Stiffness may develop over the course of the following days, and all symptoms may last for several weeks.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Treatment for whiplash is advised no matter what grade, however, you should check in with your doctor immediately should your symptoms spread to your shoulders or arms, or if moving your head is painful. If your arms feel numb or weak, you should also follow up with your doctor.
What Treatment Options are there for II Whiplash?
For most whiplash injuries, especially for a grade II whiplash injury, you will most likely be prescribed an over the counter pain medication. Ice or heat applied to the area can assist the healing process and relieve the symptoms. Simple exercises can be practiced to rebuild the strength and flexibility in your neck. Good posture will help with recovery as well.
Did You Know?
It’s very important to get a whiplash injury assessed and treated by a doctor. Even the lowest categories of whiplash can lead to lasting deep tissue and nerve damage if not assessed properly.