Whiplash is one of the most common accident-related injuries. Named for the cracking of a whip, whiplash occurs due to the forceful back-and-forth motion of the neck during an accident. Generally, whiplash occurs most often in rear-end accidents.
In some instances, whiplash can be a minor injury. However, severe whiplash can result in chronic complications.
Cause and symptoms of whiplash
During an accident, the force of the collision throws your head back and then forward, injuring ligaments and nerves in your neck. It can also damage the bones in your spine.
Most people experience signs of whiplash within the first few days of the injury. The most common symptoms include:
- Lack of range of motion
- Pain with neck movement
- Stiffness of the neck
- Tenderness in the back, shoulder and arms
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Tingling in the arms
Severe whiplash is more likely to present with symptoms directly following the accident. More serious symptoms can include tinnitus, difficulty concentrating, depression, blurred vision and memory problems.
Complications associated with whiplash
In severe cases of whiplash, you are more likely to have symptoms that can last for months or years following the injury. If you have intense symptoms, you have a higher chance of developing chronic pain. Complications of whiplash can include pain that spreads from the neck to your arms and a limited range of motion that does not improve with time.
In an accident, you are more likely to experience complications of whiplash if the vehicles collide at higher speeds. Likewise, if you had whiplash in the past, it may worsen the second time.