Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden, strong movement of the neck back and forth, such as the crunch of a whip. It is usually a minor problem, causing pain, stiffness, or discomfort, but can have long-term effects in more severe cases. In the most extreme cases, whiplash can cause serious spinal injuries that can be permanently disabling or fatal. Neck strain is often referred to as whiplash.
Although it is commonly associated with car accidents, any impact or blow that causes the head to move forward or backward can cause neck strain. The sudden force stretches and tears the muscles and tendons of the neck. In most cases, the pain will go away on its own within a month. If the pain persists or worsens, or if you experience other symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, shoulder pain, blurred vision, dizziness, or difficulty concentrating, sleeping or swallowing, it is important to see your doctor for further evaluation.
Treatment for people with whiplash may include pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a neck collar (usually worn for 2 to 3 weeks). Most people with whiplash get better within a few weeks if they follow a treatment plan that includes pain medications and exercise.