Whiplash vs Concussion: What’s the difference?

Following an accident, it can be difficult to receive proper care until you have a proper diagnosis for your auto injury. Understanding the difference between a whiplash-type injury and concussion can be especially important if you’re experiencing pain, discomfort or loss of range of motion following an auto accident. While symptoms can overlap, these two injuries are not the same. Take a look at why knowing the difference is so important!

What Is Whiplash?

A whiplash-type injury impacts your neck and shoulders. Commonly caused by rear-end impact, this injury occurs when you’re violently and forcefully jolted forward and backward from the impact of your accident. While some people feel the symptoms right away, others may not know something is wrong until days or hours have passed. While it’s most commonly associated with car accidents, this injury can actually occur from any type of impact. Here are some telltale signs that you’re suffering from a whiplash-type injury:

  • A stiff or painful neck.
  • Limited range of motion for moving your neck or shoulders.
  • Tenderness that radiates throughout the neck and shoulders.
  • Headaches that form at the base of the skull.

A whiplash-type injury can make it difficult to work, exercise, drive, or simply do the things you enjoy in life. While it is commonly said that whiplash will resolve on its own after a few weeks, many people who have been in accidents have differing experiences. Studies have shown that some people suffering from whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) still experience symptoms 10 years later. Based on evidence that chiropractic care improves cervical range of motion (cROM) and pain in the management of WAD, patients looking for relief and restored function should consider this noninvasive treatment option.

What Are Concussions?

Unlike whiplash-type injuries that impact the neck and shoulders, concussions impact the head. This is actually a form of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that requires immediate medical intervention. The reason why people often confuse the two injuries is that they both occur as a result of impact. During impact, the same rapid back-and-forth motion that triggers whiplash-type injuries can cause the brain to actually move around within the skull. While the brain is normally insulated by protective fluids that prevent brain-skull contact, the rapid motion of an accident displaces that protective liquid. Symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headaches.
  • Confusion, forgetfulness, and memory issues.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Cognitive decline.

If you lost consciousness during or after the moment of impact, this is a telltale sign of a serious injury. It’s very important to seek medical treatment if a concussion-type injury is suspected. Modern diagnostic scanning can help to confirm a head injury. While emergency care is the go-to treatment for concussions, chiropractic care can often provide relief for headaches and other lingering symptoms during a concussed person’s recovery.

Get Treatment for Whiplash or Concussion From a Chiropractor in Salt Lake City

If you’re recovering from an auto injury, a chiropractor can help you confirm the nature of your injury. Using spinal adjustments and manipulations, it’s often possible to relieve the spinal pressure and misalignments that are creating pain and tension in the impacted area. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Tiffani Fries, Genesis Chiropractic of Salt Lake City offers treatments to clients throughout Salt Lake City, Utah; Millcreek, Utah; and Holladay, Utah. In addition to being an acclaimed prenatal practice treating pregnant women, we also specialize in auto injuries. Please contact Genesis Chiropractic to learn more about whiplash-related and concussion-related care or book your appointment.