What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Dec 3, 2020

What Are the Symptoms of WhiplashWhiplash is a tricky car accident injury because its symptoms don’t always show up right away. If you were in a car accident where the force of the collision jostled your body around, especially your head and neck, then you may want to be proactive and see a doctor as soon as possible to check for whiplash. A skilled car accident doctor can diagnose you with whiplash even as your symptoms are still appearing and will provide treatment for whiplash that will include addressing common symptoms as they show up.

If you didn’t go to the doctor right after a car accident and are having any of the following symptoms, this is a sign that you may actually have whiplash.

Stiff Muscles

When you get a car accident injury after your body was jostled around due to the force of the collision, your muscles will likely be sore. Your muscles may not have had time to brace for impact and they can strain or even tear from overextension. A whiplash injury occurs when your head is flung forward and then snapped backward from the intensity of the accident. When this happens, the muscles in your neck that support your head and neck can stretch out of their normal range of motion, causing muscle strain and even tears. Muscle strains and tears can lead to stiff muscles as they tense up and inflammation develops. Inflammation is commonly referred to as swelling, and when the muscles in your neck swell because of the injury they can become stiff and sore.

Painful Neck Movements

Stiff muscles can make normal, everyday movements painful and uncomfortable. When you have whiplash, even turning your head from side to side or looking up or down can cause significant pain in your neck. Neck pains and discomfort when you move are caused by the inflammation in your neck muscles and any damage to the bones. Whiplash doesn’t just affect the muscles in your neck; it can also affect vertebrae and the discs that separate them. When your spine is injured it can also affect nearby nerves, causing more pain and discomfort. The combination of stiff muscles and pain when you move your neck can lead to a decrease in your normal range of motion in your neck. Treatment for whiplash will incorporate gentle exercises and techniques to help restore your range of motion and make those everyday movements less painful.


Headaches can be a sign of whiplash and other complications from the car accident, like a concussion. The experience of a headache is basically having pain in your head and can be caused by a number of things. If you have whiplash then the force and intensity of the car accident can cause the structures in your head and neck to swell. This swelling can press on nearby nerves and pain receptors, causing you to experience headaches. If your spine is affected by a car accident then some vertebrae may come out of alignment and can put pressure on the nerves, muscles, and tissues surrounding and supporting the spine. Treatment for whiplash will help ease the pain and discomfort of headaches through pain management, addressing inflammation, and addressing and pinched or compressed nerves.

Tingling and Numbness

Tingling and numbness are generally signs that there is injury or damage to the nerves in your body. Similar to the “pins and needles” feeling, you might notice tingling in your neck, back, and even from your shoulders through to your fingertips. A vertebra that is out of alignment can put pressure on a nerve, which can cause tingling. If that nerve is what sends signals to your arm or hand it can cause tingling and numbness all the way down your arm. Any type of pressure on a nerve can lead to tingling and numbness, which is very uncomfortable, especially when it lasts for a long time. The spongy discs that support and separate your vertebrae can shift out of place, commonly referred to as a slipped disc, and that disc can put pressure on a nearby nerve. Treatment for whiplash will help resolve tingling and numbness symptoms by addressing a slipped or herniated disc pressing on a nearby nerve.


Dizziness can often accompany other symptoms like headaches and pain in your neck. When you experience dizziness it is likely related to inflammation in your head and neck that is affecting or restricting blood flow and nerve communication. Dizziness can also be a sign of a concussion, which can also occur with whiplash. If you suspect you have a concussion you should seek medical treatment right away. Concussions and whiplash might have long-term effects on someone’s health. When your car accident doctor develops your treatment for whiplash, they will want to rule out or diagnose any other injuries with similar symptoms to whiplash.