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No matter the specifics of your car accident, it is likely a harrowing or traumatic experience. You might spend the days and weeks after your accident paranoid about any injuries and worrying about every small twinge or feeling. It’s important to be on the lookout for any signs of injury after an accident, but knowing what to look for can help you decide what is a normal ache and what is a sign of a serious injury, like whiplash or headaches. 

You should always visit a Multi-Disciplinary office with extensive Personal Injury experience, even if you aren’t noticing symptoms, just to be sure and rule out any issues. But if you’re unsure what you’re feeling, here is a guide to symptoms of whiplash and what you might feel.

What Is Whiplash?

Aside from seeing a Board Certified Physician immediately following an accident to understand if you’ve suffered from whiplash, it can be helpful to know exactly what the condition is and how it occurs during a car accident. A rear-end collision is the most common cause of whiplash, though other forms of accidents can cause the injury, in addition to rare cases of sports injuries, falls, or other high-impact traumatic events. The scientific name for whiplash is cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD).

The scientific name also describes the process by which whiplash occurs. When a car is hit from behind or the right angle, the seat pushes against your back, loading the spine with forces that compress the cervical spine (the neck) against the head. The torso continues to accelerate forward, but the head does not. This causes the cervical spine’s natural c-shape to temporarily become an unnatural S-shape. The abnormal compression and force can damage discs, joints, and other neck structures.

Your head then slams backward into the seat, which is still accelerating. Soft tissues in the front of the neck can be injured at this point, when the neck extends rapidly backward. The head then bounces off the seat and accelerates forward. If you are wearing a seatbelt, it restrains the body during the neck’s flexing, causing soft tissue damage in the back of the neck.

This entire process happens in a matter of seconds. The damage caused may depend on the speed, angle, and severity of your collision, but whiplash is one of the most common reasons people seek treatment from a Personal Injury Physician.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Some symptoms of whiplash may seem obvious given the way the injury occurs, but others may be things you do not associate with a neck or shoulder injury. It’s important to understand what may indicate injuries and to report anything out of the ordinary to your car accident clinic. Below are some common symptoms you may experience:

Neck Pain and Stiffness

The most common symptoms associated with whiplash are simple pain and stiffness in the neck, though it can also extend to the shoulders. Some of the pain may be localized, like you would have with a pulled muscle, and some may radiate down the neck and shoulders into the arms. Loss of range of motion or pain that increases with motion will usually accompany this.


There are a number of reasons headaches may occur after an accident, from concussions to stress and trauma, but they can also indicate whiplash. A Personal Injury Clinic should rule out more serious injuries, like blood clots or brain damage, before associating headaches with whiplash. If nothing else is present, they may be connected.

Cognitive Problems

A forceful impact can do enough damage to temporarily cause personality or mood shifts. You may experience poor concentration, memory problems, dizziness, anger, depression, or irritability in the immediate aftermath of whiplash.

Muscle Tightness or Tenderness

Muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are impacted by whiplash can begin to feel tight, leading to pain and limited range of motion. They may feel knotted or hard, especially when they are inflamed. On the contrary, they may also be particularly tender to the touch.

Tinnitus and Vision Disturbances

Neck strain can cause ringing in the ears and blurred vision in some cases, especially in more severe instances.

Seeking Treatment for Whiplash

It is important to remember that whiplash symptoms may not be obvious immediately following an accident. Adrenaline or shock can prevent them from appearing, even when the injury is present and may be worsening. After a car accident, you should always seek care from a car accident clinic, whether you experience symptoms or not. However, if you begin to notice any of the above symptoms or feel different than you did before the crash, seeking care is crucial to beginning your recovery.

At Airport Plaza Spine & Wellness every patient’s condition is unique and will be fully assessed by our Double Board Certified Physician before a customized treatment plan is recommended. To schedule a Free Consultation, please fill out our contact form or call: 732-END PAIN now and take your life back.


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