Whiplash occurs when an individual’s head goes backward and then suddenly jerks backwards mainly because of an accident or a car collision. It could also happen due to roller coaster rides, sports injuries, and physical abuse.

Whiplash usually happens when the ligaments and the muscles (soft tissues) of an individual’s neck extend beyond the usual motion range. There may not be any symptoms for a while; hence it is extremely important that attention is paid to any kind of physical changes for at least some days after any kind of accident. Though whiplash is thought of as relatively mild condition, however, it could bring long-term discomfort and pain.

Causes of Whiplash

The major reason behind whiplash is when the neck suffers a strain due to rapid movement first backward and followed by forward. This kind of sudden movement causes the tendons of the neck and the ligaments to tear due to stretch, ending up in whiplash.

Major causes of whiplash could be:

  • Car accidents
  • Being shaken or punched
  • Horse riding
  • Accidents due to cycling
  • Falls where the head violently goes backward with a jerk
  • Blows on the head with heavy objects

Affects of whiplash

Usually after 24 hours of the incident, symptoms surface. At times, these symptoms may develop after certain days and could last for even weeks. The common symptoms are:

  • Feeling weary constantly
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches, specifically at the skull base
  • Stiffness and neck pain

Certain lesser common symptoms in case of chronic whiplash could be:

  • Chronic pain on head, shoulders, or neck
  • Inability in sleeping properly
  • Irritability
  • Ears ringing
  • Problems with memory and concentration

You need to follow up immediately with a physician, in case:

  • You find your symptoms spreading to the arms and shoulders
  • You find weakness or numbness in your arms
  • You find moving your head painful


Most of the moderate whiplash incidents could be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, certain other remedies, and ice. However, you need to seek immediate medical help in an event where you find the following symptoms:

  • Sudden appearance of stiffness or pain in the neck that goes away
  • Severe pain in the neck
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in legs, arms, or shoulders
  • Issues with bowels or bladder
  • Localized weakness in leg or arm

The doctors usually asks questions about the injury, like how it happened, where is pain concentrated, if it is dull, sharp, or soothing. The team may conduct a check up to check the motion range for understanding which areas are tender.

This would generally be followed by X-rays to make sure the pain isn’t connected to certain other injuries or degenerative illnesses like arthritis.

Other types of tests like CT scans, MRI, etc. would allow your physician to examine if any inflammation or damage has occurred in the nerves, spinal cord, or soft tissues. Certain studies through imaging like diffuse tensor imaging (DTI), or PET scan could be of help, mainly to identify if head injury has happened. These tests help measure through localizing the extent of the injury to your brain and other areas.

Cura Multispecialty Hospital’s Whiplash Treatment

There are relatively simple treatments to whiplash. Doctors mostly prescribe an over-the-counter pain drugs. In severe injuries, prescribed painkillers plus muscle relaxants may reduce the spasms. Along with medication, physical therapy is a crucial role player in recovery. You could apply heat or ice compression in the injured regions with simple exercises can help in building flexibility and strength in the neck region. Practicing good postures and learning techniques of relaxation to keep the neck muscles get further strain would enhance the process of recovery.

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