Whiplash refers to a common neck injury that is the result of a rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. According to Mayo Clinic, the whip-like motion causes injury to the spine, ligaments, nerves, muscles, discs between the bones and other neck tissues. Whiplash can result from a few different events. However, auto accidents — or, more specifically, rear-end collisions — are the most common cause of whiplash.
Though you should always receive a medical exam immediately following a car accident to determine the extent of your injuries, whiplash symptoms may not arise until hours or days after the causing event. This makes it difficult to diagnose right away. For this reason, you should remain vigilant for whiplash symptoms in the days after the collision. Common symptoms of whiplash including neck stiffness and pain; loss of range of motion in the neck; worsening pain with movement of the neck; tingling or numbness in the arms; soreness in the upper back, shoulders or arms; headaches; fatigue; and dizziness. Some people develop more severe symptoms such as sleep problems, blurred vision, tinnitus, difficulty concentrating, irritability and depression.
Whiplash typically goes away on its own within a couple of weeks to a few months. However, for some people, the pain and discomfort may persist, and the whiplash may develop into a more aggravating condition. Unfortunately, it is difficult for a doctor to predict how a person will recover from the injury or when. However, when a person presents more serious symptoms right away, such as severe neck pain, pain that radiates down the arm and headaches, he or she will likely have chronic pain and more intense symptoms.