Whiplash is an injury to the neck due to a forceful, rapid back and forth movement of the head and neck. Whiplash is most commonly associated with auto accidents, but can also be caused by falling, sports injuries, physical abuse, or other trauma.
Common symptoms of whiplash can include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, numbness and tingling into the arms, fatigue, and dizziness. Symptoms can last from a few days to several years, depending on the severity of the injury.
Your doctor or therapist will first ask how the injury occurred, and will ask you details about your symptoms. He or she will then perform an examination that will include range of motion, strength, and tenderness assessment. Based on the exam, x-rays or MRI may be necessary to fully evaluate the injury.
Chiropractors and Physical Therapists are specialists in the treatment of whiplash injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include electric stimulation, hot/cold packs, passive stretching, myofascial release, active exercise, and chiropractic manipulations. The goals of treatment are to decrease pain, improve range of motion, heal damaged tissues, and rebuild muscle strength through exercise. It is important to get the appropriate treatments to reduce symptoms in the short term, but also to limit any long term damage to the cervical spine and surrounding structures.