Whiplash is usually the result of an automobile accident, although any sudden extension and flexion to the neck can cause it. Common symptoms include shoulder or back pain, dizziness, and headaches. Symptoms can appear directly after the injury or may be delayed for several days. Treatment includes muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or physical therapy. In most cases, people recover from whiplash in a few months.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury to the neck. It is also called neck sprain or neck strain. The injury is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck, usually because of sudden extension and flexion. Whiplash commonly occurs as the result of an automobile accident and may include injury to:
  • Intervertebral joints
  • Discs
  • Ligaments
  • Cervical muscles
  • Nerve roots.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash symptoms may appear directly after the injury or they may be delayed for several days. Possible symptoms may include:
  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal sensations, such as burning or prickling (paresthesias)
  • Shoulder or back pain.
In addition, some people with whiplash experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions, such as:
  • Memory loss
  • Concentration impairment
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Depression.
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