What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the neck forcibly bending forward then backward or vice versa, like cracking a whip. This type of injury typically involves various muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in your neck.

Automobile accidents are among the most common causes of whiplash, particularly rear-end collisions. The sudden acceleration or deceleration that causes your body to jerk forward and backward is likely to cause whiplash. 

However, auto accidents are not the only cause of whiplash. Sports accidents, physical abuse, and other types of traumas (such as a fall) can all cause this type of injury. Even riding on a rollercoaster can cause Whiplash-Associated Disorder

A young man in a gray sweatshirt having a headacheYou may not feel the effects of the injury until days later. Sometimes, people walk away from a car accident feeling fine, only to develop soreness and other difficulties days later. Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of whiplash and whiplash treatment options. 

12 Common Symptoms of Whiplash 

Whiplash symptoms may be delayed 24 hours or more after the initial trauma. These are some of the most common symptoms of whiplash: 

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Low back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating/remembering
  • Pain or numbness in the hand/arm
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Ringing in ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability 

Whiplash symptoms may look like other conditions or medical problems, especially if they are delayed after a trauma. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and believe you may be suffering from whiplash, speak with your healthcare provider for diagnoses and treatment options. 

How is Whiplash Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose whiplash by taking a complete medical history and completing a full physical exam. Your doctor may perform the following tests: 

  • X-ray: Invisible electromagnetic energy beams produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs (will not show soft tissue damage) 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Large magnets and a computer create detailed images of organs and soft tissue structures within your body
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: More detailed imaging of your body, including bones, muscles, fat, and organs

If you are diagnosed with whiplash, it is important to seek whiplash treatment right away.

Whiplash Treatment 

A doctor in green scrubs examines a female patient’s sore neck

While most whiplash patients will recover within three months, the symptoms can become chronic. If left untreated, whiplash can result in stiffness and loss of motion. Physical therapy and certain exercises can help improve your neck movement, lessen discomfort, and promote healing.

In addition to physical therapy, pain relief medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) are helpful in lessening any pain associated with Whiplash. Other whiplash treatment options include traction, massage, heat, ice, injections, and ultrasound. 

Ice is often recommended within the first 24 hours after the trauma. While past whiplash treatment usually involved immobilization in a cervical collar, modern treatment calls for early gentle movement. 

Physical Therapy for Whiplash

Physical Therapy is an effective treatment for whiplash, especially when combined with other treatments, such as pain medication. A physical therapist can work with you to restore proper function and movement in the soft tissues damaged by the trauma. 

Physical therapy for whiplash will include both passive and active treatments. Passive treatments will help you relax, while active treatments will help you strengthen your body. Your physical therapist should choose an individualized treatment plan that fits your needs. 

Whiplash Treatment at Mid-County Physical Therapy

If you are suffering from whiplash symptoms, don’t wait to get treatment. Our necks are among the most important parts of the human body, and neck pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of whiplash can negatively affect your life. 

If you’re suffering from whiplash pain, it’s important to enroll in a neck and back physical therapy program as soon as possible. Call us today to learn more about our customized whiplash treatment options and start feeling better immediately. 

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