Whiplash: 4 Telltale Signs You May Have It

Whiplash is often called neck strain due to forceful and rapid neck movement. It is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents that force your head to jerk forward or backward.

This jerking eventually results in neck strain and muscle and tendons tears. Although this is a common injury associated with auto collisions, it can also result from sports accidents or physical abuse.

Most times, many people tend to confuse this type of injury with neck sprains. However, the two terms are different. Whiplash results from damage to the muscles, tendons, or bands of tissue connecting muscles to bones. On the other hand, neck sprains are caused by a tear in the tissues and ligaments connecting the bones.

Depending on the severity, most people with whiplash get better within days or weeks. However, the earlier you notice the symptoms, the quicker you can treat the injury.

So, this article shares four signs that you are suffering from whiplash. If you sustained an injury like this in a crash, visit Carolina Spine and Pain Center for personalized auto accident injury treatment.

What Are the Symptoms?

There are four signs you should look out for to know that you are suffering from whiplash and not neck sprains. We discussed them below.

Neck, Shoulder, or Back Pain

Neck pain differs from mild to severe depending on the injury level. Sometimes, the pain in a specific area, and at other times, it can be generalized or radiates down the shoulder into the arm or hand. However, whiplash happens when the tendons and muscles in the neck get sprained or torn, causing neck pain.

In addition, similar pain can also be caused by discs, nerves, bones, or joint injuries. But if you were involved in a severe collision, you probably have whiplash. Likewise, you most likely have whiplash if you have a stiff neck.

You may have sprained your muscles or tendons by the hyperextension of your neck or head. So, the force could jolt your vertebrae out of alignment, herniated, or even misalign your soft tissue.

Therefore, if you notice a stiff neck, especially after a car accident, you need to see a medical professional quickly. This is because if your neck muscles do not support your neck, it becomes unstable over time. The shoulder and upper back can also become painful when the pain from the neck transfers to other soft tissues.

Reduced Range of Motion

Usually, when you are in pain, you tend to reduce the movement of another part of your body. However, a more reduced range of motion can be a severe issue. For example, when you have whiplash, you may not be able to move with ease.

This is because specific body movement gets hindered when a muscle is tight or damaged. Medical professionals advise keeping your neck and arms mobile to regain motion. Finally, when you have difficulty controlling your neck, that could also signify whiplash.


Whiplash, as well as nerve and joint injuries, can cause headaches. For example, when the neck is damaged from a car accident or collision, it is related to the cervical spine and causes severe headaches. Sometimes, you might not hit your head, but you’ll experience tension headaches due to whiplash injuries.

In addition, a lot of people who have whiplash sometimes suffer a concussion. Concussion does not only mean losing consciousness; it is more of a brain bruise. So, even if you do not lose consciousness, the sudden movement of your brain forward and backward can harm it.

Weakness, Numbness, or Tingling

Another sign that you are suffering from whiplash is weakness or numbness. Whiplash can cause inflammation or compression of a spinal nerve root in the neck. This compression or inflammation can lead to symptoms like numbness or tingling from the shoulder down the arm and hands.

The numbness or tingling occurs on only one side of the body and indicates more severe damage. Also, the tingling sensation you feel in your fingers is a sign of whiplash.

What Are the Major Causes of Whiplash?

The most popular and common cause of whiplash is car accidents. For example, when a vehicle hits another vehicle from behind, the driver in front would likely get whiplash. However, whiplash can come from any direction, and the victim’s head may move not just forward but backward or sideways.

Whiplash is often made worse when the muscles pull the head back into position too hard to compensate for the sudden movement. This eventually causes another overstretching in the opposite direction. Aside from car accidents, whiplash can also be sustained in other ways.

These includes:

  • Falling off a bicycle
  • Physical abuse
  • Amusement Park rides
  • Blows to the head
  • Horse riding accident

How Do Medical Experts Diagnose Whiplash?

After an accident, the patient will be moved to the hospital. Next, the doctor examines the patient to know if they have any injuries requiring immediate treatment. However, based on the symptoms and tests, the doctor will determine if the patient is suffering from whiplash. The physician also gets x-rays of the patient’s neck to check for complications.

If the neck X-rays are normal, but the patient continues to have neck pain, the doctor can also put the cervical collar in place. The cervical collar is kept for about a week, and a further examination is done. At this time, the doctor obtains new X-rays to confirm if there are recent changes.

If at this time, the doctor is still concerned about any soft tissue injuries, they may obtain a magnetic resonance imaging study. These MRI scans detect injuries to the soft tissue of the neck that can’t be gotten with regular X-rays.

Is Chiropractic Care Used in Auto Accident Injury Treatment Involving Whiplash? 

Yes, chiropractic care is available for these injuries. The chiropractor uses gentle stretches to relieve excessive tension in the neck. Alternatively, they may use repeated contractions on inhibited muscles.

If the tight muscle is causing you great pain, the chiropractor may use gentle finger techniques to relieve you of the aches. Here, the chiropractor finds and focuses on the pain trigger points.

Are You Suffering From Whiplash? Contact Our Greenville Experts on Auto Accident Injury Treatment

Get evaluated and treated quickly if you have been involved in a severe car accident with a possible whiplash injury. This will avoid the long-term consequences of whiplash or any other wounds.

If you still feel severe pain after three months, it’s a good idea to look for a physician who is an expert in the treatment of auto accident injuries near me to examine your condition. We are committed to helping you recover and return to your life at Carolina Spine and Pain Center. So book an appointment with us today.