What Is Whiplash?
occurs when a person’s head moves backward and then forward very suddenly with
great force. This injury is most common following a rear-end car collision. It
can also result from physical abuse, sports injuries, or amusement park rides.
results when the soft tissues (the muscles and ligaments) of your neck extend beyond
the typical range of motion. Your symptoms might not be apparent for a while,
so it’s important to pay attention to any physical changes for a few days
following any accident.
whiplash is thought of as a relatively mild condition, it can cause long-term
pain and discomfort.
How Do Whiplash Injuries Occur?
occurs when the muscles in your neck suffer a strain because of a rapid
movement backward and then forward. The sudden motion causes your neck’s
tendons and ligaments to stretch and tear, resulting in whiplash.
occur from a number of activities. The most common are:
abuse (being punched or shaken)
sports that involve tackling or physical contact (such as football, boxing, and
in which the head violently jerks backward
to the head with a heavy object
What Does Whiplash Feel
usually appear within 24 hours following the incident that caused the whiplash.
Sometimes symptoms may develop after a few days and can last several weeks.
Common symptoms include:
pain and stiffness
(specifically at the base of the skull)
symptoms associated with long-term chronic whiplash include:
with concentration and memory
in the ears
to sleep well
pain in the neck, shoulders or head
follow up with your doctor immediately if your symptoms spread to your
shoulders or arms, if moving your head is painful, or if you have numbness or
weakness in your arms.
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
the Mayo Clinic, most mild to moderate cases of
whiplash can be treated at home using over-the-counter drugs, ice, and other
remedies. However, you should seek medical help if you experience the following
or stiffness in the neck that goes away and then returns
numbness, or tingling in your shoulders, arms, or legs
issues with your bladder or bowels
weakness in an arm or leg
cases, whiplash is the result of a car crash or other type of accident. If you
want to press legal charges against the person responsible, it’s important to
seek medical care following the incident. Your doctor will be able to document
your condition, so you can seek damages to cover your healthcare costs.
will normally ask you certain questions about your injury, such as how it
occurred, where you feel pain, and whether the pain is dull, shooting, or
sharp. They may also do a physical examination to check your range of motion
and look for areas of tenderness.
might order an X-ray to ensure your pain isn’t connected to any other type of
injury or degenerative disease like arthritis.
such as computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs),
will allow your doctor to assess any damage or inflammation in the soft
tissues, spinal cord, or nerves.
Treatment for Whiplash
treatments for whiplash are relatively simple. Doctors will often prescribe
over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol or aspirin. More severe injuries
may require prescription painkillers, and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle
to medication, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery. You may want
to apply ice or heat to the injured area and practice simple exercises to build
strength and flexibility in your neck. Practicing good posture and learning
relaxation techniques to keep your neck muscles from straining also contribute
to a faster recovery.
You might be
given a foam collar to keep your neck stable.
should not be worn for more than three hours at a time, and should only be used
the first couple of days after your injury.
You may also
want to try alternative remedies to treat the pain from your whiplash injury.
Some of the remedies include:
(although no studies definitively confirm acupuncture’s ability to ease neck
(this may relieve some of the tension in the neck muscles)
nerve stimulation (this gentle electric current may help reduce neck pain)
Complications Associated with
people experience any long-term complications from whiplash. Usually, the
recovery time is anywhere from a few days to several weeks. According to the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke, most people recover fully within three months.
with whiplash do experience chronic pain or headaches for years following their
accident. Doctors may be able to trace this pain to damaged neck joints, disks,
and ligaments. However, more typically, chronic pain following a whiplash
injury has no medical explanation.