Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Whiplash

Whiplash
beginning of content

Whiplash

A sudden and vigorous movement of the head, sideways, backwards or forwards, can cause a neck injury known as whiplash.

Whiplash injuries are commonly caused by:

  • motor vehicle accidents
  • a sudden blow to the head from contact sports such as rugby or boxing
  • being hit on the head by a heavy object
  • a slip or fall where the head is jolted or jarred.

Whiplash occurs when the neck is moved beyond its usual range of movement, which overstretches or sprains the soft tissues of the neck (tendons, muscles and ligaments). This causes pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders and may also cause back pain.

Pain from a whiplash injury often begins 6 to 12 hours after the injury. Many people feel uncomfortable on the day of the injury or accident and find that pain, swelling and bruising increase over the following days.

Whiplash symptoms often greatly improve or disappear within one to four weeks. It may take longer for symptoms to completely disappear and some people experience some pain and neck stiffness for months after a whiplash injury.

You should see a doctor if:

  • the pain is getting worse
  • the pain doesn’t ease up in a week or so
  • you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
  • you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel you have a fever as well as neck pain.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your whiplash, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Sources:

NHS (Whiplash)

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 11 results

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Whiplash Treatments

Information on Whiplash treatments and Whiplash treatment comparisons.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - What is Whiplash

Whiplash is a common term for sudden acceleration-deceleration forces on the neck as a result of rear-end or side impact motor vehicle collisions, diving accidents and/or other mishaps.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Whiplash Symptoms

The most common symptom after a whiplash injury is neck pain or stiffness. This can occur immediately after the injury or even after a few days.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Whiplash

The University of Queensland's (UQ) Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD - based in the UQ Herston School of Medicine) and the NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health (CCRE Spine) have combined resources to establish the Whiplash evidence based information resource - a resource providing evidence based information to the general public and health care professionals about whiplash and its management.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Whiplash Treatment Table

Whiplash evidence based information resource - a resource providing evidence based information to the general public and health care professionals about whiplash and its management.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

Whiplash injury and recovery my experience

Anna talks about the car accident that gave her whiplash, and how she is recovering.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Treatment Comparisons

Select two or more treatments to compare.

Read more on Whiplash (Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine) website

Neck pain: treatment - myDr.com.au

Treatment for neck pain depends on the cause and how severe it is. Neck pain treatment, including treatment for whiplash, often involves a combination of self-care, medicines, exercises and relaxation therapies.
 

Read more on myDr website

Brain Foundation | Concussion

Concussion Concussion (See also Acquired Brain Injury) Description Concussion is used to describe a minor head injury that is not usually life-threatening

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Neck pain: symptoms and causes - myDr.com.au

Knowing the symptoms of your neck pain and when to see a doctor can help in finding the cause and getting a diagnosis.

Read more on myDr website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback