You have probably heard this term thrown around in casual conversation.  This may include examples of how someone turning their head around so fast to look at something gave them whiplash.  This common phrase taken out of context like this can be harmful, because it perceives the idea of whiplash as a joke when, in fact, it is a rather bothersome and cumbersome injury.

According to The Mayo Clinic, “Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.”  Whiplash is most often caused by rear-end auto accidents.  But, it can be caused result from a sports accident, physical abuse, or other trauma.  Thus, figuring out the cause of the whiplash is just as important as treating it.  This is because if the cause is not identified, the injury may be re sustained by that same cause.  Therefore, step one is identification of the injury’s origin.

Figuring out the cause of the whiplash is best left up to a medical professional, especially if it comes from an auto accident or other negligent traumatic act not of your doing.  You want a medical professional diagnosing this so that if you have to take legal action, you have an official document showing the cause of the whiplash and its severity.  This document can then be used for legal cases, should the need arise.  In addition, understanding where the whiplash came from helps with treatment, and only a medical professional can do the tests and diagnose whiplash.

Common signs and symptoms of whiplash

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Some people also experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression

It is always a good idea to get medical attention after any trauma, especially an auto accident that may seem minor.  This especially holds true with whiplash because whiplash can take up to 24 hours to materialize.  Thus, you do not want to wait until it is so severe that you cannot function.  You should seek treatment immediately after an accident or trauma if you have any of the symptoms at the scene of the trauma.  If you decide to reject treatment at the scene, seek medical attention if you start to experience any of the symptoms.  Another reason to seek medical attention for whiplash is because these symptoms can represent many medical ailments.  Thus, you may seek treatment for whiplash and find out there is something else that needs attention.  Take whiplash seriously and get your doctor’s help if you think you have the injury.

Whiplash Examination May Include:

Physical Assessment:

  • The range of motion in your neck and shoulders
  • The degree of motion that causes pain or an increase in pain
  • Tenderness in the neck, shoulders or back
  • Reflexes, strength and sensation in your limbs

Imaging Tests

  • X-Rays can to identify fractures, dislocations or arthritis
  • Cat Scan can reveal bone damage
  • MRI to detect soft tissue injuries such as damage to the spinal cord, disks, or ligaments

Curing whiplash can take time and effort, depending on the type of injury and its severity.  Immediate treatments may include pain medication for the pain and some sort of immobilization of the neck area to reduce the risk of further injury.  More long-term approaches include some of the treatments listed below.  However, it is important to note that the long-term recovery could take months.  But, this all depends on the severity of the injury and the person involved; there is no set standard time for recovery.

Treatments for Whiplash

  • Rest
  • Ice or Heat
  • Over the Counter or Prescription Pain Medication
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Injections for pain management

In addition to these treatments, other options will help heal the injury.  These include neck exercises, physical therapy, and foam collar.  However, foam collars are not recommended for long periods of time because they can cause weakening of the neck muscles.  Foam collars may be prescribed for a few hours at a time to immobilize the neck letting it rest and reduce further injury from movement of it.

The next time you here someone use the term whiplash in jest, you can correct them and educated them on the seriousness of the injury.  Caused by trauma, including auto accidents, whiplash is a jolting movement of the neck back and forth.  It should be treated immediately to gain medical documents should you choose to seek legal actions.  And, a medical professional should diagnose it to find and eliminate the cause and treat any other secondary injuries caused as a result of the whiplash.  In addition, treatment may vary depending on severity of the injury, with treatment options ranging from medication all the way to physical therapy.  Whiplash is an injury that should be treated with respect and taken seriously.

Andre Belanger

Andre Belanger


André Bélanger, a graduate of Loyola University, is a highly-respected criminal defense attorney serving the people of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and surrounding areas of Ascension Parish and New Orleans, for one of Baton Rouge’s top-25 law firms. In his 15 years of practicing law, Mr. Bélanger has handled thousands of criminal cases at both the pre-trial and trial stage, including approximately 200 trials. This trial experience includes homicide defense and prosecution, large drug conspiracies and fraud cases making Bélanger one of the few attorneys capable of handling even the largest, most complex federal cases. https://manassehandgill.com/andre-belanger/

Join Our Mailing List

Baton Rouge Office

Fax: 225-383-9704

Livingston Office

Fax: 225-686-2338

Website designed by: dezinsINTERACTIVE