Whiplash Wisdom: 5 Things You Need to Know About Whiplash Neck Injuries


Man holding neck in pain after car accident

Your neck is fragile. Every year about 1 million people are affected by whiplash neck injuries. These occur when your head is thrown back and forth. The injury can be daunting.

If this happens to you, it may be time to seek that advice of a medical professional. Until then, keep reading for your guide to understanding whiplash.

What Is a Whiplash Neck Injury?

If you take a rope or a string, and move it up and down rapidly, you’ll notice portions of the line moving back and forth, like a whip. The tip of the rope will move very rapidly. This is exactly how whiplash works in the body.

The human spine is sort of like a rope, or at least a connected series of links. When the head and spine move back and forth rapidly, the force of the movement can travel up the spine like in the example of the rope. The power of the force can get trapped in the vertebrae, causing anything from minor discomfort to serious injury, and even death.

Causes of Whiplash

The most common cause of whiplash injury is a minor traffic accident. Minor accidents are at the perfect speed for whiplash – fast enough to cause injury, but slow enough that the human body stays intact. A higher speed collision may cause more direct and obvious injury.

Many people don’t know that whiplash can also be caused by other types of activities. Sports injuries, falls, and even weird movements can all cause whiplash.

Signs of Whiplash

The main symptom of whiplash is a stiff neck or pain in the upper back and arms. There can be many other types of symptoms as well, potentially affecting the entire body. Neurological symptoms like nausea, headaches, and vertigo are also common.


Treatment of whiplash is usually symptomatic. Your doctor may prescribe cold packs or analgesics, like aspirin. In rare, more serious cases, immobilization and even surgery may occur.

Immobilization of the head and neck are common precautionary tactics, especially in the case of a serious car accident. In a whiplash car accident, first responders will usually place a neck cuff on the patient until a more thorough scan of the spine can be performed at a hospital.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

A whiplash injury usually lasts a few days, to a few weeks. Unfortunately, no two people are the same, and it is very difficult to predict the severity of the injury from the outside. In rare cases, whiplash injuries can cause permanent, lifelong neck and back issues.

Don’t Mess Around

A whiplash neck injury will usually heal on its own. But when it doesn’t, it can be extremely serious, painful, and long-lasting. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t take chances with your health, and you can’t necessarily tell how bad this injury is.

If you suspect you have whiplash, please see a medical professional right away. You need to be evaluated. Then check out State Urgent Care’s blog for information on all kinds of medical issues.