Whiplash, also called neck sprain or neck strain, is a soft tissue injury to the neck. Whiplash is produced by a sudden jerking or backward and forward acceleration of the neck and head.
The most common whiplash injuries are due to automobile accidents where a motor vehicle is struck from behind, causing the occupant's body to thrust forward and the head to snap back and forward until the chin strikes the chest.
Most people suffer temporary pain and stiffness in their neck. They may not feel significant discomfort until several days after the accident. Then the pain may gradually intensify, moving to the back of the head, chest muscles, and one or both of the shoulders and the upper arms.
Other whiplash injury symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Muscle spasms
- Pain turning head side-to-side
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
- Tender, swollen neck
Possible Treatments – Rest and Anti-inflammatory Medications
The mildest cases of whiplash injury improve after a few days when treated with rest and aspirin or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
Other measures may be needed if the neck pain is constant and persistent, muscle spasms occur as the head is turned, or pain and spasms spread to the shoulder and upper arm. You may want to take it easy during the first two weeks after an accident, but staying in bed is not necessary.