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Whiplash – Neck Sprain or Neck Strain


Although people may joke about this condition in response to a mild injury, whiplash is a real, common condition.  It happens when your neck jerks back and forth quickly and violently. Your spine bends past its normal range of motion. This can injure the vertebrae of your cervical spine. It can damage the supporting ligaments and muscles in your neck.


Causes & Triggers

Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end collision automobile accidents. It can be caused by the quick jerking of a rollercoaster ride. It can be caused by contact sports such as football. It can also be caused by physical abuse.

  • Motor vehicle accidents (especially rear-end collision)
  • Acute injury

Signs & Symptoms

Whiplash can be very painful. You may feel pain and stiffness in your neck at the time of your injury, or it may begin days later. You may also have pain in your shoulders, back and arms. You may not be able to twist or bend your neck normally. You may have headaches and dizziness. Some people also experience complications with hearing, vision or memory. These can become chronic problems.


Tips & Treatment

Treatment options may include rest, medications and injections. You may benefit from a soft cervical collar. Physical therapy can also be an important part of your recovery. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

  • Whiplash involves a sudden extension or backward movement of the neck in combination with a flexion or forward movement of the neck.
  • In severe instances, intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerve roots may also be injured.
  • This condition responds well to non-surgical treatment, including ice, a soft collar, physical therapy, and/or physician-directed pain medication.

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