What is Whiplash?

If you’ve recently been in a car accident, you may have been diagnosed with whiplash. Whiplash is basically a neck sprain or neck strain that results from your head jerking forward and back as a result of impact. It is characterized by neck pain, stiffness, tingling in the shoulder and back, dizziness, and headache. While these symptoms may present themselves immediately following the accident, it’s not uncommon for symptoms to show up three, sometimes even four, days after the event.

Whiplash can be more severe and accompanied by injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. In addition, whiplash can cause long-term issues such as chronic pain, memory loss, nervousness and irritability, concentration impairment, problems sleeping, fatigue, and depression.

If you think a car accident has caused whiplash, it’s important to see a medical professional immediately so you can be treated. Common treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), pain medication, muscle relaxants, and sometimes a cervical collar. In addition, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy and/or heat treatments. In severe cases, cervical traction may be needed.

For the most part, prognosis for whiplash is good, with most people making a full recovery with the right treatments. Most people will recover within three months of the accident, though it’s possible for long-term symptoms, such as headaches and neck pain, to remain for some time.