How Serious Is a Whiplash Injury?

Car AccidentWhiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when your head is jolted forward and suddenly snaps back, or severely rotates to the side. This kind of injury is commonly suffered by people involved in rear-end car accidents. 

In the past years, whiplash was associated with fake or exaggerated personal injury claims, with lawyers making their clients wear neck braces before their court appearances. Hyperextension injury, neck sprain, cervical strain, or myofascial injury are also other terms that refer to whiplash. Regardless of what it’s called, what exactly is whiplash?


Aside from car accidents, you get whiplash from incidents such as physical abuse (shaken or punched), contact sports, cycling accidents, and slip and fall accidents.

A common misconception is that people get it through high-speed collisions. This is not the case. A 1998 study shows that you can get a whiplash as slow as 8km per hour. The injury mostly depends on where the impact is coming from and the person’s position during the incident. A 2008 research also states that the smaller the individual, the greater the impact they obtain. 


Symptoms of whiplash can last for days or weeks. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders
  • Headaches at the base of the skull that stretches to the forehead
  • Upper or lower back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Blurred vision

Chronic whiplash lasts for over six months. Less common symptoms of this are:

  • Memory and concentration problem
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Ringing in the ears


Injured individuals can ice their neck to reduce pain and swelling for 15 minutes every four hours for two to three days. Over-the-counter pain medications usually help relieve the pain. If your doctor prescribed it, you may wear a foam collar to keep your neck stable.

Physical therapy can also help to a full recovery. This includes alternative remedies to your injury, like hiring a chiropractor, getting acupuncture, or having a massage.

Whether or not whiplash symptoms are minor or severe, injured individuals should seek professional medical attention as soon as they can after the accident.