Whiplash

Affected by Whiplash? Find Out How We Can Help.

A fast jerk that throws your head forward or backward can cause neck strain called whiplash. Whiplash can occur when any impact or blow causes the head to move violently, pulling the neck muscles behind it. The extreme movement of your head pushes your neck beyond the normal range of motion.


Athletes, especially those who play contact sports like football, are often affected by whiplash or neck strain. Neck strains occur when the muscles or tendons are damaged and inflamed. Neck sprains are different – though often mistakenly used interchangeably – and occur when tearing occurs in the ligaments of the neck.


The results of whiplash can be mild or severe, usually depending how strong your neck muscles are and how violently your head was jerked. Often, whiplash takes a few weeks to completely heal, though some patients can develop chronic pain symptoms that do not disappear.


When you experience whiplash, symptoms will likely occur within 24 hours and may include:



  • Neck pain

  • Neck stiffness

  • Headaches (often radiating from the base of the skull)

  • Dizziness or blurred vision

  • Fatigue


Additional symptoms may also include:



  • Lack of concentration

  • Forgetfulness

  • Ringing ears

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Irritability


You should contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience severe symptoms, such as:



  • Pain spreading down to your shoulders or arms

  • Difficulty or pain when moving your head

  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms

Any kind of accident or surprising movement that causes the head to be thrown backwards and forwards may cause whiplash. Common forms of whiplash occur with:



  • Car Accidents – Possibly the most common form of whiplash occurs due to car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. Even a minor accident can result in a traumatic head movement that causes muscle strain in the neck.

  • Physical Abuse – Punching or shaking can cause whiplash. Neck strain is commonly seen in abuse victims as well as in shaken baby syndrome.

  • Contact Sports – Football tackles and hockey checks are just a few of the sports-related collisions that can cause strained neck muscles.


Women, infants and young children are more likely to experience whiplash than adult men. This is likely because their necks aren’t typically as strong, resulting in less muscle damage and less uncontrolled movement.


Since whiplash typically heals with a bit of time, we typically encourage our patients to reduce the symptoms and allow the body to heal on its own with upper cervical chiropractic care. Whiplash can be very painful and irritating, so you may also find it helpful to:



  • Ice your neck as soon as possible for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days and protect your skin by wrapping your ice in a thin towel or cloth.

  • Take anti-inflammatory pain relievers to help reduce pain and swelling (such as ibuprofen or naproxen)

  • Apply moist heat (only after 2-3 days of icing your neck)

  • Consider a massage, which may help the muscles relax


If you’ve experienced whiplash, contact our office to schedule a consultation to see how upper cervical chiropractic care may help relieve pain incurred from your injury.