What Is Whiplash And What Does It Feel Like?

Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when your head is forcefully and quickly jerked forward and backward, or vice versa. This motion can strain and tear the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your neck (via Healthline). It can also cause damage to the bones in your spine. Although whiplash is most commonly caused by car accidents, it can also result from such things as contact sports, physical abuse, horseback riding, and cycling accidents.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash typically develop within 24 hours after the accident and can include headaches, dizziness, neck pain or stiffness, blurred vision, and fatigue. In more severe cases of chronic whiplash, people may also experience memory problems, difficulty concentrating, ringing in the ears, insomnia, irritability, and chronic pain in the head, neck, or shoulders. Most cases of whiplash do not cause permanent injury and resolve in matter of days or weeks, but if your symptoms spread or worsen, you should contact your doctor immediately.

How to treat whiplash

Although whiplash can be painful and may take a few weeks to recover from, the good news is that it should resolve on its own. In the meantime, however, there are a few things you can do to speed up the healing process (via WebMD). For instance, you can treat your symptoms by icing your head and neck, applying ice or a cold pack for 15 minutes at a time. This will help reduce any pain and swelling in the area.

Your doctor may also recommend taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. Taking the recommended dose of either drug while symptoms persist can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, you may also be given a brace to wear for a few hours at a time to help support your head and neck. This is only meant to be a short-term treatment, however, as wearing braces or collars for lengthy periods can actually weaken the muscles in your neck.