A common misconception about whiplash is that it only happens during rear-end automobile collisions. Whiplash can occur from any jerking of the neck, regardless of what direction the impact comes from. Falls in a game or hitting a soccer ball with your head can cause whiplash just as getting in a collision can.

Identifying Whiplash

Whiplash symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after the injury but may appear a few weeks later. Knowing how to identify whiplash is necessary to prevent further injury. Although a sore neck is a common symptom of whiplash, the signs and symptoms of whiplash can be more than just a sore neck. Other possible symptoms include upper back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, memory problems, dizziness, stiffness, blurred vision and ringing in the ears.

Untreated whiplash can cause biomechanical problems in your child’s development. It’s important to watch for this injury and ask young children specific questions about how they’re feeling if they fall or get hit while playing in order to become aware of any whiplash symptoms they are experiencing. Remember, young children can’t always accurately express what their symptoms are.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

If you suspect your child has whiplash, you need to take them to the doctor for confirmation and to determine the extent of the injury. Some whiplash cases are severe enough that damage also occurred to the cervical spine. Only a doctor can let you know if the cervical spine is injured.

Your child’s doctor might recommend that your child wear a soft cervical collar until the ligaments heal.

The RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is often used to treat whiplash. Your child may also need to do physical therapy exercises to recover. Another option in treatment is taking your child to a massage therapist for eight to 12 sessions. A massage therapist can support whiplash recovery by making sure scar tissue heals correctly.

Preventing Whiplash and Other Injuries

Take your young athlete to the chiropractor for a few routine adjustments every year. This is especially important for children who are involved in aggressive sports like football and soccer. Routine chiropractic adjustments keep your child’s growing spine healthy and can prevent health problems in adulthood.

Don’t let kids under age 11 head balls in soccer. It puts them at a higher risk of whiplash and brain injuries. Make sure your child always wears the correct protective equipment too while playing sports. It also helps to ensure your young athlete has the correct posture. Poor posture puts them at higher risk of back and neck related injuries. A physical therapist can correct posture problems.

Whiplash can cause long-term health problems in young athletes when it goes untreated. Because the symptoms can be mild or appear weeks later, it’s easy for this injury to go undiagnosed. Be on the safe side, and take your child to the doctor if they experience any symptoms of whiplash within a month after falling, getting hit, or getting injured in sports.

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