Whip Lash / Neck Sprain-Strain

Whiplash is a neck injury that happens most often when a vehicle is rear ended. The head suddenly moves backward then forward in what is called a CAD injury, cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome. This rapid extreme motion is like some one cracking a whip where the sudden movement pushes the neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.

Whiplash can be severe or mild. Chiropractor care is the best way to treat acute neck pain. Whiplash has been associated with causing the loss of the natural curve in the neck. The loss of this curve can cause problems later on, such as, chronic neck pain and headaches. By restoring this natural curve with Chiropractor care you can lessen or even stop chronic complications from this type of injury. Until you can see a chiropractor, over-the-counter pain relievers and ice can help relive some of the painful neck muscles. If the pain is severe prescription medications might be needed until the muscles and ligaments heal.

Recovering from whiplash usually takes anywhere from 2-8 weeks sometimes longer depending on the severity of the injury. Also, some people develop chronic pain that will require long term care or in some cases life time pain management.


Whiplash typically develops within the first 24 hours of an injury. But it can be immediate or can be delayed up to weeks depending on the severity of the injury. Initially many people do not have any symptoms, such as, neck pain or stiffness but will become painful soon after an accident. Symptoms may include but not limited to:

  •  Dizziness
  • Headache, most often at the base of the skull
  • Fatigue
  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Blurry vision

Other symptoms might include:

  •  Concentration problems
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

When to seek care, see a doctor

  •  If the pain radiates into the shoulders or arms
  • If you have numbness or tingling in your shoulders / arms
  • If you have weakness in your shoulders / arms
  • If your head is to painful to move
  • If you have a severe headache
  • If you have trouble waking up or extreme fatigue
  • Vision disturbances, such as, double vision or blurry vision
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or extreme nausea.
  • Memory loss, such as, you can’t remember what happened during or after the accident


Whiplash usually happens when someone’s head is thrown backward then rapidly thrust forward. This extreme motion will strain the neck muscles and ligament.

Rear end car collisions are the most common cause of whiplash. Other causes, such as, physical abuse, contact sports, shaken baby syndrome, falls or any other physical means that would cause extreme neck strain.

Risk Factors

Women, children, and elderly are at an increased risk because their necks are not as strong and men.


Recovery time for whiplash is anywhere from 2 weeks up to two years. In some cases chronic pain can be traced to the injury of the joints, disc and ligaments in the neck. But some cases no irregularity can be found to explain the pain.