As defined by Merriam-Webster, “whiplash is an injury resulting from a sudden sharp whipping movement of the neck and head as of a person in a vehicle that is struck from the rear by another vehicle.”

It is an injury that occurs when your neck is thrown forward and then backward in a fast motion. The movement forces the muscles and ligaments in the neck to be outside of normal range of motion, resulting in back pain, neck pain and weakness. Whiplash isn’t something you simply treat with muscle relaxants and soft cushioning around your neck. If you suffer a whiplash injury, it’s best to visit a doctor or physical therapist to ensure that you take the proper steps to get back to your best health possible.

Keeping your muscles in motion increases circulation, heals inflamed nerves and helps to prevent long-term loss of muscle function. A physical therapist can best support you in finding the best movements to regain regular use of your neck and the affected areas by developing a program of therapy for you.

Symptoms of whiplash are not always immediate. They may begin right after the injury is incurred or accident takes places, but there are times when symptoms can appear hours or even days following the injury. Typically, individuals who sustain whiplash injuries will experience neck pain, headaches and muscle spasms. The delay can be attributed to the high levels of adrenaline surging through one’s body after the injury is sustained.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • headache
  • shoulder pain and stiffness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • jaw pain
  • arm pain
  • arm weakness
  • visual disturbances
  • ringing in the ears
  • back pain

The end goal is to restore full range of motion for the neck and head of the injured individual after a customized number of visits with the physical therapist. If you recognize any of these symptoms, contact your local physical therapist.