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
- 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
- tiredness and irritability
- difficulties swallowing
- blurred vision
- memory problems
- vertigo (a feeling you are moving or spinning)
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
You should see a doctor if you have neck pain after a car accident or after an injury.
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).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: November 2017