Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury caused by any sudden, violent, backward jerk of the head or neck that results in:
Process Leading to Whiplash
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- Spraining the neck ligaments
- Straining the neck muscles
- Injury to cervical discs
- Possible nerve injury
Symptoms often develop in the hours after the injury, although they can develop in the days after the injury.
Symptoms may include:
- Stiff neck
- Neck pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Decreased range of neck motion
- Muscle spasms
- Pain, numbness or tingling extending down an arm
- Unusual fatigue
Most whiplash injuries do not show up on imaging tests. Your doctor may want to take images of the neck to look for further damage. Images may be taken with:
- Neck X-rays
- CT scan
- CT myelogram
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:
- Use an ice pack for the first few days, then switch to a heat pack. Apply for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Place a towel between the ice or heat pack and your skin.
- Medications such as:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Prescription pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants
- Move as much as you can tolerate
- Avoid strict rest
- Physical therapy and exercises
- Joint manipulation of the spine done by a chiropractor or other trained provider
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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.