Do I Have Whiplash? How to Find Out

If you have ever strained your neck after a particularly jarring ride at an amusement park, or been involved in an accident and experienced severe neck pain afterward, you have probably felt whiplash, which affects the soft tissues in your neck. It’s important to understand what this injury is, and how to find treatment if you do experience it.

How You Get Whiplash

Whiplash is caused by a sudden and jarring impact that results in an unnatural movement in the overall structure of your neck. Normally your neck has a small natural curve at the top where it connects the upper back to the skull, but when your head suddenly and unexpectedly is thrown backward and forward, it can disrupt the natural curve and cause injury to the joints, muscles, ligaments, and bones in the neck and upper back.

The most common way that people get whiplash is from an auto accident, particularly when you are rear-ended by another vehicle, or when someone hits you head-on.

Common Whiplash Symptoms

The primary symptom that people feel after they experience whiplash is soreness or pain in the upper back and neck. It may begin immediately after the jarring impact (such as the car accident), or it may develop over several hours, days, weeks, or even months. The most common things to look for include:

  • Spasms or pain in the neck and upper back muscles
  • Pain when you try to move your head
  • Concussion symptoms, such as dizziness or fatigue
  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing, or hoarseness, which could indicate damage to the esophagus or larynx

Treating Whiplash

If you are ever involved in an accident, it’s important to seek medical treatment for potential injuries right away. In some cases you might be in shock or you may not initially think that you have a neck injury, but getting immediate treatment can help prevent it from getting worse over time and can help you prove that the injury was related to the auto accident, which can help you with insurance claims to cover the costs of whiplash treatment.

Diagnosing whiplash may start with an X-ray, CT, or MRI scan, and treatment can include wearing a soft brace to immobilize the neck while it heals, medications to reduce pain and swelling, chiropractic care that includes spinal manipulation or mobilization, and physical therapy to restore range of motion.

If you think you might have suffered whiplash, or you were recently involved in an auto accident and have some lingering pain and symptoms, contact Apollo Health today to find out about our whiplash therapy.