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Whiplash symptoms

Whiplash is caused when the tendons, muscles and ligaments in the neck area are sprained. For example as a result of a car accident. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • swelling and tenderness in the neck
  • temporary loss of movement, or reduced movement, in the neck
  • headaches
  • muscle spasms
  • pain in the shoulders or arms.

Whiplash can also cause:

  • lower back pain
  • pins and needles, numbness or pain in the arms and hands
  • dizziness
  • tiredness and irritability
  • difficulties swallowing
  • blurred vision
  • vertigo (a feeling you are moving or spinning)
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

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.

Suspicion of deliberate injury

If there is any suspicion that the injury was not the result of an accident, and that it was deliberately inflicted, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This could be a nurse or doctor at a hospital emergency department or doctor’s surgery, or a health visitor or school nurse. If you are unsure who to speak to, call Healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222 to discuss your concerns.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about whiplash symptoms, check your symptoms with 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?

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UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Whiplash Treatments

Information on Whiplash treatments and Whiplash treatment comparisons.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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UQ Whiplash Evidence Based Resource - Treatment Comparisons

Select two or more treatments to compare.

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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.
 

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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.

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