Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that can include:
Process Leading to Whiplash
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Factors that may increase your chance of whiplash include:
Symptoms often develop in the hours after the injury although they can develop the days after the injury.
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Most whiplash injuries do not show up on imaging tests. Your doctor may order some tests to make sure that no other injuries have occurred.
Your doctor may want to take images of the neck to look for further damage. Images may be taken with:
An electromyogram may also be done to test for nerve damage.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:
If you are diagnosed with whiplash, follow your doctor's instructions.
There are no current guidelines for preventing whiplash. It often occurs due to an unexpected event.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Cervical sprain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 25, 2013. Accessed June 10, 2013.
Conlin A. Bhogal S. Sequeira K. Teasell R. Treatment of whiplash-associated disorders--part II: Medical and surgical interventions. Pain Research & Management . 10(1):33-40, 2005.
Conlin A. Bhogal S. Sequeira K. Teasell R. Treatment of whiplash-associated disorders--part I: Non-invasive interventions. Pain Research & Management . 10(1):21-32, 2005.
Curatolo M. Arendt-Nielsen L. Petersen-Felix S. Evidence, mechanisms, and clinical implications of central hypersensitivity in chronic pain after whiplash injury. Clinical Journal of Pain . 20(6):469-76, 2004 Nov-Dec.
Neck sprain. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00410 . Updated August 2007. Accessed June 10, 2013.
NINDS whiplash information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/whiplash/whiplash.htm . Updated September 19, 2012. Accessed June 10, 2013.
Verhagen AP. Scholten-Peeters GG. van Wijngaarden S. de Bie RA. Bierma-Zeinstra SM. Conservative treatments for whiplash. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews . (2):CD003338, 2007.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Teresa Briedwell, DPT, OCS
Last Updated: 6/24/2013