What’s the Difference Between Whiplash and a Concussion?

Following an accident, identifying all of the injuries that you may have sustained is important for getting on the path to healing through appropriate treatments. It’s common for people suffering from pain in the head region to ask about the differences between concussions and whiplash. While both impact the top part of the axial skeleton, they are actually separate injuries. However, anyone who has been in an auto accident should not rule out the possibility that both whiplash and concussion have occurred. Both injuries are the results of rapid acceleration and deceleration. They also happen to be two of the most common injuries reported following a car accident.

What Are the Main Differences Between Whiplash and Concussion?

When you suffer from whiplash, your neck and shoulders are impacted. Whiplash occurs when rapid acceleration and deceleration cause your head to snap back and forth quickly to trigger severe overexertion in the neck and shoulders. While whiplash is commonly associated with car accidents, it can happen as the result of nearly any type of forceful impact. Some of the common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • A stiff neck.
  • A limited range of motion in the neck and shoulders.
  • Difficulty moving the head.
  • General tenderness in the neck and shoulders.
  • Headaches that radiate from the base of the head.

By contrast, a concussion exclusively impacts the head. In fact, a concussion is technically a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions occur when extreme force or rapid back-and-forth movement cause your brain to actually move around inside your skull. Due to the extreme impact, the fluid that normally cushions your brain against making contact with your skull is unable to do its job. This is where you get a concussion that is caused by the force of your brain hitting your skull. A concussion can also be caused by the force of your head hitting a steering wheel or dashboard. Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Loss of your ability to move your neck.
  • Headaches.
  • Memory issues.
  • Tiredness/sluggishness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Behavior changes.
  • Incoherence/inability to answer questions.
  • Confusion.
  • Memory problems and forgetfulness.
  • Clumsy movements.

If you lose consciousness following an accident, this is a telltale sign that you’ve suffered a concussion. The trauma of a concussion can damage brain cells or create changes in the brain that can impact everything from coordination to cognitive ability. It’s very important to seek medical attention if there is any chance that you’ve suffered a concussion.

Can You Get Whiplash and a Concussion at the Same Time?

You won’t necessarily suffer from a concussion just because you’ve experienced whiplash. In the inverse, you can get a concussion without getting whiplash. However, it’s very possible to sustain both injuries simultaneously. This is most commonly seen with auto accidents due to the sheer force involved. It’s important to treat both injuries fully if you’re suffering from symptoms. The first step is to be evaluated to determine the extent of your injuries.

Do You Need Treatment for Whiplash and Concussion?

Reinforcing the body’s own natural ability to heal by getting back into alignment following traumatic injury involving the head, neck and shoulders is pivotal for overcoming the pain, symptoms and long-term effects of an accident.

Dr. Tony Brooks has extensive experience with treating car accident injuries for patients in Redmond, Washington. Structural Chiropractic is here to provide tailored treatments to address your injury to get you on the path to feeling like yourself again. For more information about whiplash treatments, contact Structural Chiropractic to book your appointment with Dr. Tony Brooks today.