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Whiplash is more than a pain in the neck
Dr. Summer TurnerNov 10, 2020 10:53:45 AM5 min read

Whiplash Is More Than A Pain in the Neck

Whiplash is more than just a pain in the neck.

Also called neck sprain or neck strain, whiplash is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the soft tissues of the neck. This is due to the sudden movement of the neck in a back-and-forth motion during a trauma, such as a car accident.

Just about two-thirds of people involved in motor vehicle accidents will develop symptoms of whiplash.

However, whiplash symptoms usually take a few hours or days after the injury to show up.

Whiplash is a type of injury that, although it is very prevalent in car accidents, can also occur from falls, contact sports, physical abuse, work injuries, and other traumas to the neck.



If you have been involved in an accident, especially an auto accident, you should seek medical attention from a whiplash injury chiropractor to ensure you don't suffer from severe symptoms of whiplash.

Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, your whiplash symptoms could be lying dormant.

The sooner you are checked out, the better chance you have of a full recovery.

In the article below, we will discuss whiplash and why it is more than just a pain in the neck.


Table of Contents



Whiplash injury from a car accident


Whiplash Injuries

Patients who have suffered a whiplash may complain of numerous symptoms, such as stiff neck muscles. 

The pain can extend to shoulder pain, pain in the arms, upper back, and even the upper chest.

It's estimated that 45% to 85% of people who suffer a whiplash injury suffer from long-term pain symptoms that can last up to five years after the accident, making prompt medical attention even more critical.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash

The sensation and symptoms of whiplash can vary from person to person, and the severity of the injury can also influence the experience. Common feelings associated with whiplash may include:

  1. Neck Pain: The most prevalent symptom is neck pain, which can range from mild to severe and can cause long-term pain. 

  2. Neck Stiffness: The neck may feel stiff, reducing neck mobility and damaging the neck joints. 

  3. Headaches: Headaches or head pain, often starting at the base of the skull, are common symptoms.

  4. Tenderness: The neck and shoulders may be tender to the touch.

  5. Muscle Spasms: In some cases, individuals may experience muscle spasms in the neck and upper back.

  6. Fatigue: Whiplash can lead to general fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

  7. Dizziness: Some people may feel dizzy or lightheaded.

  8. Numbness or Tingling: There might be sensations of numbness or tingling in the arms or hands.

It's important to note that the onset of symptoms may not appear immediately after the injury and can develop over the hours or days following the incident.

In severe cases, whiplash can cause more significant issues, such as memory loss, blurred vision, brain fog, severe stiffness, difficulty sleeping, and mood changes.

If you suspect you have whiplash, it is advisable to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing Whiplash

To diagnose a neck injury such as whiplash, your chiropractor will inquire about your injury and accident details and review your medical history.

If you were in a car accident, for example, your chiropractor will ask probing questions like where the impact was, if you were moving at the time, and if you were wearing a seatbelt.

Your chiropractor will ask similar questions if you were in a sports-related accident.

Pre-existing conditions, like arthritis, may increase the whiplash's severity, so your chiropractor needs to know about them.

Your chiropractor will also perform an in-depth physical exam with a concentration on your neuromusculoskeletal system.

Imaging Tests

For some whiplash injuries, advanced imaging scans may be necessary to make a proper diagnosis.

Cervical CT scans may be ordered if your chiropractor suspects cervical spine trauma, such as a vertebral fracture.

A cervical CT scan may also be ordered if you have severe pain with neurological deficits.

A cervical MRI is usually ordered if you have constant neck pain complaints with radicular symptoms, such as a tingling sensation radiating down the arms.


An essential part of your whiplash treatment should be to remain active unless immobilization is necessary due to chronic pain. 

Some patients may need a cervical foam collar during the first few days following the incident if the cervical trauma is severe, but they usually aren't recommended.

If you visit your chiropractor immediately after the whiplash injury, your chiropractor will periodically apply an ice compress to the injured area for about 10 minutes.

Ice compresses are generally only needed during the first 48 hours after an injury.

Your chiropractor may also suggest that you avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages immediately following the injury.

Chiropractic adjustments are also highly beneficial.

Studies have found that chiropractic treatment benefits the vast majority of patients suffering from chronic whiplash syndrome.

Chiropractic care for whiplash can include spinal manipulation, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, and cryotherapy.

Neck adjustments will improve the mobility of the spine, restore range of movement, and enhance the movement of the adjoining muscles.

This will eventually reduce pain levels, soreness, and stiffness of whiplash and allow you to turn and tilt your head again painlessly.

The treatment plan designed by your chiropractor may also include mobilization, massage, or rehabilitative exercises to speed up your recovery process.

Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash can vary greatly. Every person is different, and everyone's ability to heal is different, so every treatment plan is individualized.

Once the soft tissue damage has been treated and you've made a full recovery, your chiropractor may recommend regular chiropractic care to make sure your body stays in top shape.

Your chiropractor will also recommend effective home remedies to help your recovery time. 

Things like proper computer and phone ergonomics, range-of-motion exercises, and icing at home all play an essential role in alternative remedies to help the healing process.

The treatment plan that your chiropractor designs should hold you responsible for helping yourself.

The more you know about home icing, home exercise, and modifying your daily routine, the faster your pain from whiplash will heal. 

Car Accident Whiplash Injury Chiropractor


Contact The Arrowhead Clinic Today

If you have been in an accident and think you might have whiplash, you should see a chiropractor as soon as possible.

Even if you aren't experiencing symptoms immediately following your accident, your chiropractor can determine if you have been injured or not.

The chiropractors at Arrowhead Clinic have been treating whiplash for nearly 40 years.

If you are in Georgia or South Carolina, your local Arrowhead Clinic can have you on the road to recovery immediately after sustaining a whiplash injury.

For your free consultation with Arrowhead Clinic, click the button below.

Free Whiplash Consultation


Dr. Summer Turner

Dr. Turner is Arrowhead Clinic’s Atlanta Chiropractor. She is originally from North Carolina but has traveled all over the country pursuing her career as a Chiropractor by treating people who have been injured in accidents and people who suffer from chronic pain. She has been with Arrowhead for many years, fulfilling her desire to help accident victims and patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions. Dr. Turner is well-versed in chiropractic care with an emphasis on sports-related therapies. She had the opportunity to train under the chiropractor for the Carolina Panthers to complete her Master's in Sports Rehabilitation. She studied under two more chiropractors, which allowed her to sharpen her skills and adjusting techniques. Dr. Turner is certified in several soft tissue techniques, including Active Release Technique (ART) and Fascial Distortion Model (FDM), as well as a movement diagnosis technique called Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). Dr. Turner believes that movement is life and, as such, plays a critical role in overall health. She has always been passionate about helping people improve their quality of life, be it through chiropractic care, nutritional counseling, and/or a variation of physical modalities. She has helped many individuals achieve a healthier life. A recent review left by one of Dr. Turner’s patients stated, “Great customer service from staff. Quick and effective service from the doctor.” Dr. Turner offers free, same-day consultations to anyone in pain. She is available for appointments Monday-Friday from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.