Understanding Whiplash

Accidents are an unfortunate part of life. Even though they are common, most people do not understand what to do after they are involved in one. You may feel fine physically and emotionally, but receiving medical attention is still important because many injuries may not show signs until later. Whiplash is one of these injuries that may now show immediate signs. In many cases, whiplash may not show signs for hours or even days after an accident. This guide will help you understand the causes, signs, and treatment options for whiplash.


During a vehicle accident, the impact can cause your head to move quickly and in an abnormal fashion. A rapid back and forth type of motion of the neck that flings the head back and forth like a whip is known as whiplash.

The forceful movement strains the muscles and ligaments in the neck. The injury is very similar to a sprain. In some cases, whiplash affects more than just the neck. It can lead to serious headaches and backpain if not addressed and treated properly.


Again, you may feel perfectly fine after the accident, but that does not mean you do not have whiplash. The symptoms may not show themselves for many hours or even days.

Symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty moving the neck
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the shoulders and upper back
  • Tingling and numbness in arms
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

You should be checked by a doctor after the auto accident, but if you begin to experience one or more of the above symptoms later, consult your doctor again.


Diagnosis will involve a physical examination, X-rays, and possibly MRIs if your doctor believes the whiplash has caused a spinal injury, as well.

Once diagnosed, a series of treatments will be made available to you. Firstly, your doctor will want to control your pain. Rest and over-the-counter pain medications are usually effective for reducing the pain of your whiplash. If you are still experiencing pain, you may require prescription muscle relaxers or injections to ease the inflammation and discomfort.

Physical therapy can be helpful for both reducing your pain and improving the neck's range of motion. Massage and chiropractic care are also helpful for pain relief and restoring your neck's movement.

Whiplash should be taken seriously. This guide and your doctor will help you understand the importance of diagnosis and treatment even if you feel fine after an accident.