What is whiplash?

Whiplash pain is a term used to describe the soft tissue injuries of the neck that can occur when the neck moves in an abnormal way.

What causes whiplash?

Whiplash typically occurs following a motor vehicle accident, but it also may occur following any activity that causes forceful movement of the neck, including falls, trauma, and sports-related injuries. During this type of injury, the neck is forced to extremes of the range of motion, which can cause significant injury to the muscles, ligaments, discs, and facet joints. This injury can lead to pain for many months, or even years following the original accident. Following a motor vehicle accident, it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible.


Common symptoms associated with whiplash include neck pain, swelling along the back of the neck, muscle spasms, and difficulty turning the head from side-to-side or up and down. During this acute phase, X-ray and MRI can help to determine the extent of damage that has occurred.


Common treatment following a whiplash injury includes anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, naproxen), muscle relaxers (cyclobenzaprine), ice, heat, and rest.

Treatments (cont.)

Chiropractic therapies, decompression, and massage therapy can also be very useful during this acute phase.

Sometimes people experience symptoms following a whiplash injury that require immediate medical care. If you are experiencing severe neck pain, dizziness, headaches, or weakness of the upper or lower extremities, go to the emergency room immediately.


Various treatments are available for whiplash.


Medications include anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

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