Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden and forceful back-and-forth motion. While it’s often recognized as a common injury after rear-end car collisions, it’s not limited to car accidents. You can suffer whiplash as a result of a sports collision, a slip and fall, or even physical trauma.
Because whiplash can lead to chronic neck pain if left untreated, it’s important to receive chiropractic care as soon as you suspect you have whiplash. By learning how to identify the many signs of whiplash, you can feel empowered to seek medical care swiftly.
Below, Steven Levingston, DC, Faith Brown, DC, and Calandra Walker, DC highlight eight signs of whiplash and how we can help you get relief from them.
- Neck pain – Given that whiplash is caused by a sudden back-and-forth jolt, it makes sense that neck pain is a telltale sign of whiplash. You may notice that your pain worsens with neck movement (side to side or up and down). Many people report that the pain feels like a constant ache. Stiffness may accompany the pain.
- Headache – Soon after a whiplash injury, you may notice a headache, especially at the base of your skull. Post-whiplash headaches happen when the ligaments and tendons in your upper neck are overstretched. Note that there are many conditions that can also cause a headache and neck pain, so it’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis to know what is causing your symptoms.
- Dizziness – Whiplash can also contribute to cervical vertigo. Cervical vertigo is a specific type of vertigo that refers to dizziness and pain that are the direct result of a cervical (neck) spine injury. You may have vertigo if you feel like the room is spinning or feels wobbly.
- Blurry vision – When the tendons and ligaments are overstretched in your neck, it can also affect your vision. Blurry vision isn’t uncommon after suffering a whiplash injury.
- Back pain – When the neck is jolted forward, it’s hard for such a forceful impact to not affect the rest of your spine. That’s why it’s normal to also experience middle and low back pain after whiplash. You may notice swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and muscle spasms.
- Tingling – If the swelling in your neck irritates or presses on a nerve, it can cause tingling sensations in your arms and hands. Another sign that your nerve is irritated is numbness in the affected limb. Both tingling and numbness are common signs of a pinched or damaged nerve.
- Fatigue – While you may not feel tired at first 一 the adrenaline after an accident can make you feel alert 一 you may start to feel fatigue set in after the adrenaline wears off. Not only does whiplash contribute to muscle fatigue, but you may feel emotionally drained from the ordeal as well.
- Mood changes – Although mood changes are most often associated with concussions, you may experience mood or cognitive symptoms if your whiplash was severe.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
Researchers estimated that depression symptoms were present in up to 34% of whiplash patients studied.
What to do if You Notice These Symptoms
While mild whiplash can resolve within a few weeks, it’s always the best practice to get examined. A proper diagnosis and a treatment plan can help you avoid the complications of chronic neck pain from untreated whiplash.
Our team creates a custom treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms, but the general goals are to restore a range of motion to your neck, reduce pain, and help prevent future neck injuries.
If you’re dealing with any of these whiplash symptoms, call the location of your choice or request an appointment through our online system.