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What is whiplash?

by | Oct 21, 2018 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Whiplash is a common injury for motorists involved in car accidents. In some cases, the effects of whiplash can be severe, and can prevent a crash victim from earning a living for a period of time. The Mayo Clinic offers information on whiplash, so you can take the proper treatment steps if it happens to you.

Why it happens

Whiplash occurs due to a rapid jerking motion of the neck. This back-and-forth motion (often associated with rear-end vehicle accidents) injures sensitive tissues, such as spinal discs, bones, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. Along with car accidents, whiplash may also result from being assaulted or playing high-contact sports, such as football.


There are a number of symptoms to look for if you suspect you have whiplash. These symptoms typically present within 24 hours of the accident, although this time frame may vary. If you suffer from whiplash, you may experience dizziness, pain, stiffness, headaches, tingling or numbness, and limited range of motion when moving your neck. While slightly less common, some people also experience memory issues, ringing in the ears, problems sleeping, and blurred vision. If symptoms seem to be severe, they should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.


Treatment usually depends on how serious injuries are. In some cases, doctors recommend over-the-counter pain medication and rest (usually for about a day or so). Applying heat and cold is also beneficial, especially for pain and stiffness. With more advanced injuries physical therapy may be needed. Exercises are also useful, and these typically involve neck movements like rotating, tilting, and bending your head down to your chest.