Treating Whiplash After a Car Accident

Car accidents commonly cause neck injuries due to the accelerated and forceful impact. Such neck damage is called whiplash. Whiplash, also called neck strain or neck sprain, results when discs, ligaments, nerve roots, cervical muscles, and intervertebral joints get damaged.


Whiplash Symptoms


Whiplash signs and symptoms may include:


  • Neck stiffness and pain

  • Loss of neck motion range

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Pain and tenderness in your arms, upper back, or shoulder

  • Numbness or tingling in your arms

  • Fatigue

  • More pain with every neck movement


When to See a Doctor


The treatment for whiplash can take place at home, though sometimes it disappears on its own. However, it is crucial to know when to seek medical attention. It is important to rush to see a doctor if you have whiplash symptoms after a car accident. Get an accurate and prompt diagnosis to rule out any risk factor that can lead to worse symptoms.




Whiplash symptoms are a result of damaged discs, ligaments, and muscles. Your doctor may need to conduct tests beyond an X-ray test, such as magnetic resonance imaging or CT scans, to verify what injuries you have in your soft tissues.




Doctors treat whiplash to relieve the pain, restore your normal range of neck motion, and help you resume your normal activities. Your treatment will depend on how severe your whiplash is. 


Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter medications, prescription medicine, or injections to relieve your pain. Some of the recommended treatments may help relax your muscles and relieve the tension causing neck strain. You may need to rest for one or two days after the accident to help you feel better. 


Your doctor is more likely to recommend a couple of exercises that can help you stretch and restore your neck movements. In cases where your whiplash persists, you cannot do the prescribed exercises. Your doctor is likely to recommend a physical therapist to help you.


Your physical therapist will help strengthen your muscles, get back your normal movement, and restore your posture by guiding you through various exercises. Your physical therapist can also create an exercise plan that you can do at home. The number of physical therapy sessions you will have will depend on the severity of the whiplash.




Most people who get whiplash after a car accident experience relief after a few weeks. However, some continue to experience persisting effects from their neck injury that can last for a couple of months or years.


Predicting the outcome of every whiplash recovery is not possible. You are more likely to experience more pain if you start with rapid and intense symptoms like:


  • Severe pain in your neck

  • Neck pain that spreads to both of your arms

  • A more limited range in your motions


There are a couple of risk factors that can contribute to a severe whiplash outcome. Conditions like existing neck pain or low back pain can increase your risk of experiencing a worse neck injury. Other risk factors that can cause a worse whiplash are old age or having suffered from a whiplash before.


For more on how you can treat whiplash after a car accident, contact Unity Spine & Joint at our offices in Tempe or Avondale, Arizona, and Indianapolis, Indiana. You can call (480) 897-3300, (623) 935-9920, or (317) 343-9040 today to schedule an appointment.

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