Understanding Whiplash

According to the Mayo Clinic, 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 over-the-counter pain relievers and ice applied to the painful neck muscles. If pain persists, prescription medications and physical therapy may be helpful.
Most people recover from whiplash in just a few weeks, but some people with whiplash injuries develop chronic conditions that can be extremely painful and disabling.
Some of the whiplash symptoms that can develop within 24 hours of the injury may include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches, most commonly at the base of the skull
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

Some people also experience:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability

Whiplash typically occurs during situations in which a person’s head is thrown backward and then forward, straining the neck’s muscles and ligaments. Rear-end motor vehicle collisions (also known as “fender benders”), are the most common causes of whiplash injuries.

Up to half the people who experience whiplash will continue to have pain months 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.