Whiplash is a neck injury that can occur during rear-end automobile collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward — similar to the motion of someone cracking a whip. These extreme motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.
Whiplash injuries can be mild or severe. Treatment typically begins with ice applied to the painful neck muscles. If pain persists, medical attention and chiropractic care and physical therapy can be helpful. Most people recover from whiplash in just a few weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury.
– Neck pain and stiffness
– Headaches, most commonly at the base of the skull
– Blurred vision
Some people also experience:
– Difficulty concentrating
– Memory problems
– Ringing in the ears
– Sleep disturbances
When to see a doctor
– The pain spreads to your shoulders or arms
– It becomes painful to move your head
– You experience numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms
Whiplash typically occurs when a person’s head is thrown backward and then forward, straining the neck’s muscles and ligaments. This type of injury may result from:
– Auto accidents. Rear-end collisions are the most common cause of whiplash.
– Physical abuse. Whiplash may also result from incidents of being punched or shaken. Whiplash is one of the injuries sustained in shaken baby syndrome.
– Contact sports. Football tackles and other sports-related collisions can sometimes cause whiplash injuries.
Most people who experience whiplash will recover in the first two to three months. Fewer people may continue to have pain for several months — possibly up to two years — after the injury occurred. In some people, this chronic pain can be traced to damage in the joints, disks and ligaments of the neck. But in many cases, no abnormality can be found to explain this persistent neck pain.