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What Kind of Injury is Whiplash?

Whiplash is the common name for an injury that occurs in your neck. Whiplash happens when your neck is quickly bent forward and backward as can take place in a car accident. When your car is moving forward, your body is moving forward along with the car. When you hit your brakes quickly, the car stops but your body keeps moving forward. Due to your torso being held to the seat by a seat belt, the main portion of your body is restrained from going forward. However, since your head is not restrained in a belt, it will fly forward. Once it goes the whole way forward, it will whip backward. This is where the term “whiplash” comes from, as the head’s movement resembles the lash of a whip.

When the human head whips back and forth, it puts great strain on the neck. In whiplash, the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues of the neck are stretched and strained. This can cause pain in the neck and shoulders.

Whiplash can occur in any situation where your body is subject to a sudden acceleration or deceleration. In addition to car accidents, whiplash is common in contact sports, such as football or roller derby.

Symptoms of whiplash

Whiplash, in general, causes neck pain. The following additional symptoms may also be present in cases of whiplash:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Pain in shoulders
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in neck, shoulders, arms or hands
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache or migraine
  • Pain in the arms or hands
  • Ears ringing
  • Vision problems, including blurriness or “seeing double”
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, anger or short temper

If you experience any of these symptoms after a car or sports accident, you should see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.


Your healthcare provider will take a complete medical history and do a physical exam. He may want to perform further tests to confirm your whiplash injury and rule out other, more serious conditions. Your doctor may order tests such as x-rays, CT scans or MRIs.


Most of the time treatment for whiplash may only consist of conservative measured such as rest and over the counter pain medication. If your injury is more severe, treatment may include ice pack application, a neck collar to support your neck as it heals, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, chiropractic therapy or massage therapy.

Most people recover from whiplash in a few days to a few weeks. However, some people may experience pain for several months or even longer.

If your whiplash symptoms do not improve over time, it is important to let your healthcare provider know. If your symptoms get worse or if new symptoms show, it is also important to tell your doctor so he can continue to treat you properly so that you can make a full recovery.

Van Law Firm

If you have been in an accident or experienced an injury and you think you may have whiplash, call the personal injury attorneys at Van Law Firm today. Our attorneys are experienced in handling whiplash and other injury cases. We can discuss your options and advise you about any compensation that you may deserve. Call your nearest Van Law Firm office today. Consultations are always free.