Whiplash 101: Everything You Need To Know


Whiplash is a nasty little bugger. Sometimes it goes away within weeks after an accident, but often it lingers. According to spinal experts, 15 to 20 percent of patients develop chronic pain from whiplash that can last two or more years after it first occurred.

If you think you’ve experienced whiplash, should you seek treatment? Immediately after an accident, it is common to go to the hospital or urgent care clinic to check what kind of damage might have been done to the muscles and ligaments in your neck. Because your neck supports your head, is it very important to ensure that the muscles are healthy.

Several weeks after you’ve experienced whiplash, if your neck still aches or if you are experiencing other negative symptoms like insomnia, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, fatigue, blurred vision, weakness, or ringing in their ears, you might want to see a medical professional. Often a chiropractor or medical doctor can perform therapeutic exercises, prescribe medication, or even perform operations that will give you relief.

What is whiplash?

The term “whiplash” both describes what happens to your neck in an accident and also the symptoms the movement of the neck causes. It occurs when the neck moves forward and then backward in a very fast motion. Typically whiplash goes away on its own, but because of the tender muscles it involves, it can be more enduring.

If you think you have whiplash due to abnormal symptoms, like headaches or neck swelling, considering treatment is worthwhile in case your pain turns out to be chronic. It is always a good idea to get the pain checked out as a precaution.

Common causes of whiplash

Automobile accidents commonly cause whiplash, but physical abuse, sporting activities, assaults, and accidental falls can all cause whiplash. Even roller coaster rides or holding a telephone awkwardly under one’s neck can cause minor symptoms.

Getting treatment


If ice and over-the-counter medications aren’t doing the trick to assuage your neck pain, a doctor can attempt a number of things that may bring relief and healing.

Treatment for whiplash will depend on what kind of damage was actually done. Whiplash can damage your soft tissue, or more seriously, your facet joints or discs. A doctor will examine your entire spine by x-ray to make sure damage hasn’t been done elsewhere and then give you next steps.

Sometimes doctors use ultrasounds to reduce inflammation in the neck. They can also perform manual therapy or apply chiropractic techniques to promote healing. You may also receive prescription medication to help with the pain.

Better safe than sorry

Seeking treatment for whiplash is at least a safety measure against prolonged pain, and at best your road to healing. Neck pain can be debilitating, and the effects of whiplash can be very painful. Consider a consultation with a physician or chiropractor in order to be on your way to total health.

  • Mayo Clinic
  • Whiplash Prevention
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  •  License: Image author owned

Brooke McDonald writes on health-related topics for Minneapolis Whiplash Chiropractor Spine & Sports Chiropractic. The views reflected here are Brooke’s and may not reflect those of Spine & Sports Chiropractic.


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