What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

May 11, 2021

What-Are-the-Symptoms-of-WhiplashWhiplash generally refers to the sudden motion that occurs when the body is met with a heavy impact, like a car crash. The head jolts forward and then backward in a speed unnatural for the body, leading soft tissues surrounding the neck to become overexerted and to suffer sprains or tears. When this happens, it can cause a range of symptoms in the sufferer, forming a condition also commonly referred to as whiplash. In a clinical setting, you may hear a whiplash chiropractor refer to these symptoms as “whiplash associated disorders.” These symptoms can range from minor annoyances to debilitating pain. It is important to be able to identify these symptoms so you can seek care if you have not already.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash

A number of whiplash associated disorders are present in the majority of cases and are often used in the diagnosis of the injury. Symptoms that a whiplash chiropractor will look out for first include the following:

Neck pain: Because whiplash involves damage to the tissues in the neck, it usually causes pain in the same area. The pain can be a mild ache or severe and constant; it can also be confined to one spot or radiate down the shoulder into the arm or hand. While this is usually a result of tissue damage, pain can also be related to injuries to discs, nerves, joints, or bones in the area.

Stiffness or reduced range of motion: Pain may cause you to avoid movement of the neck, but more often it is because of the damage to the musculoskeletal system. Tightening of a muscle or another mechanical problem can make it difficult to move the neck like you usually would have. Over time, this can lead to instability in the neck or poor control of the muscles.

Headaches: Irritation of a nerve or joint, a tightening muscle, or the general healing process can all lead to headaches. When related to whiplash, headaches after an accident generally begin at the base of the skull and radiate up the back of the head.

Shoulder or upper back pain: When the neck’s ligaments or muscles are torn or strained, it may be referred to other soft tissues in the area, like the upper back and shoulders. This area is typically not damaged but is experiencing pain related to the initial damage.

Tingling, Weakness, or Numbness: If one of the neck’s spinal nerve roots becomes compressed as a result of whiplash, it can lead to symptoms of tingling, weakness, or radiation that move down the arms and hands. This is similar to the feeling of your hand or foot “falling asleep” when you sit for too long. Most often, will occur on one side of the body and not the other after whiplash.

Other Whiplash Associated Disorders

Depending on the severity of your whiplash and where it is located, you may experience a range of other symptoms. If you don’t experience these, it doesn’t mean you don’t have whiplash, but they are important to be able to spot and report to your whiplash chiropractor.

Dizziness: Whiplash is often accompanied by a concussion, which can lead to dizziness. Neck instability can also lead to dizziness or a loss of balance.

Vision problems: Blurred vision, double vision, or other interferences may result if damage to the nerve has occurred. This may cause more dizziness, making symptoms cumulatively worsen.

Ringing in the ears: Also known as tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears can be either occasional or constant after whiplash. Brain injuries, nerve and vascular damage, or jaw injuries that are all consistent with whiplash can lead to this issue. Without proper treatment, it may become chronic.

Emotional changes: You may notice that you are feeling more irritable, anxious, or depressed after sustaining a whiplash injury. These may be related to the stress of your accident or other problems, but they can also be a sign of post-traumatic symptoms of whiplash.

Sleep issues: You may struggle to fall or stay asleep due to the discomfort caused by your whiplash or general stress. When you are able to sleep, you may still wake up feeling fatigued because you tossed and turned, or your spine was not properly supported and interrupted your sleep cycles.

Treating Whiplash Symptoms

Most whiplash cases are able to be completely resolved with the help of a skilled whiplash chiropractor. At AICA Lithia Springs, our team of experts will work to understand your symptoms and goals for recovery, using that information to create a customized treatment plan. Call us today to get started!


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