Open Accessibility Menu

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash

  • Category: General
  • Posted On:
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash is a neck strain that can be painful and long-lasting. You can get whiplash when a force or movement causes your head to whip back and forth. The most common way that people get whiplash is during a car accident. You may also get a head injury and whiplash from striking your head against an object.

Rapid back-and-forth movement can cause a soft tissue injury in the neck. It is often called a neck sprain, and your symptoms may not immediately appear. Many go home after suffering from whiplash and do not begin to feel the effects until later that day or the following days.

What Causes Whiplash

Car accidents are the most common causes of whiplash. But other activities can cause whiplash, including:

  • A sudden blow to the head with an object
  • Contact sports
  • Falls that cause the head to jerk back quickly
  • Physical abuse and assault, including shaking or punching

People who are shorter, older, very young or have less neck muscle are more prone to whiplash.

Signs of Whiplash

Because many people do not feel the symptoms right away, they may assume they are fine. Others may notice immediate signs of whiplash. The most common signs of whiplash are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, especially near the base of the skull
  • Less range of motion than usual
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or fingers
  • Pain or stiffness in the neck

In some cases, you may also experience chronic shoulder pain, memory loss, depression, ringing in the ears or trouble sleeping. You may have whiplash if you experience any of these symptoms after a collision. If untreated, your symptoms could last longer or grow worse.


Complications of a Whiplash Injury

People often recover from whiplash very differently. Without medical attention, some people may not heal properly or may not realize they have other injuries. Severe whiplash can result in fractured bones in the neck or a damaged spinal cord. You may have chronic pain or a potentially permanent loss of motion.

It is critical to be examined by a doctor and discuss all your symptoms. Medical staff may use diagnostic imaging, like an X-ray or CT scan, to look for more severe injuries to the soft tissue or the neck vertebrae.

How to Treat Whiplash

Many people can relieve whiplash symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. Some doctors may prescribe wearing a foam collar for a short period but do not recommend wearing a collar long-term. Using heat and ice can help relieve pain and inflammation in the area. Your doctor may also recommend that you do strengthening exercises or physical therapy.

Some people who get whiplash may choose massage or chiropractic treatment. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers for a short period after your injury.

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center

Be Safer When Injuries Happen and Seek Help at a UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center

Whiplash can be painful and may lead to more severe head and neck injuries. If you have symptoms of whiplash, it’s best to seek help from the experienced medical team at a UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center.

At UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Northeast Florida with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care are fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to fractures, fever to chest pain, with on-site labs, X-ray, ultrasound and CT imaging, all under one roof. The ER and urgent care centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No appointment is necessary – just walk in!

Find the UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center in Jacksonville nearest you at