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What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash

Jun 2, 2021

When you’ve been in a car accident, a general rule of thumb to follow is that if your car has any type of damage then your body likely does too. While you might not recognize it right away, it is possible to get injured in what seemed like a small car accident. Whiplash is the most common car accident injury and it can affect your head, neck, and upper back, which can make recognizing symptoms right away confusing. That’s why you should talk to a whiplash chiropractor after a car accident to determine whether the pain and discomfort you are feeling is due to whiplash.

How Whiplash Happens

Rear-end collisions, also commonly known as fender-benders, are perhaps the most common type of car accident that can lead to a whiplash injury. That’s because the vehicle that slams into yours from behind can send your head and neck flying forward and then abruptly snapping backward. While your neck is designed to support your head and provide a wide range of motion, the suddenness and force of impact can negatively impact your neck muscles, tendons, and even your spine.

No two whiplash injuries are exactly the same because each person’s head, neck, and back respond differently to a car accident. However, there are some signs and symptoms that are commonly experienced with a whiplash injury. Here are common symptoms of whiplash that you may experience after a car accident:

Common Symptoms of Whiplash

Neck Pain

The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain. When a whiplash injury occurs, your neck muscles strain too far out of their normal range of motion. This can also lead to small tears in the muscles that support your neck and also leave them weak. Neck pain is caused by damaged or injured muscles in your neck, as well as tendons and other soft tissues. You may also experience neck pain if the force of impact caused a misalignment in your spine, where one of the vertebrae is out of place.

Stiff Muscles

Strained, sore muscles can become stiff after an injury like whiplash. When your muscles are damaged, the natural instinct is to use them less in order to avoid pain. Pain in your neck can keep you from turning your head or moving it up and down as much. The more you avoid certain motions because they cause pain, the more stiffness you may develop in your neck. A whiplash injury can also cause stiff muscles in your upper back and shoulders as they work harder to support your injured neck.


When your neck muscles and tendons are injured in a car accident, you may notice your neck, upper back, and even your shoulders are more tender to the touch. You may also experience tenderness along with pain when trying to complete typical movements, like turning your head from side to side.


Headaches are common symptoms of multiple car accident injuries, including whiplash. People who experience headaches after a whiplash injury tend to report them starting at the base of the skull and feeling the headache pain going into the back of your head. If your spine was negatively affected by a car accident, it can also lead to headaches because the spinal cord protects the nervous system that connects to the brain.

Tingling & Numbness

If your spine is affected due to a car accident and a whiplash injury, you may also experience tingling and numbness. The nerves that are in and around the spinal column can also become damaged from a car accident’s effects on the body. Tingling and numbness typically occur when a misaligned vertebra or spinal disc is putting too much pressure on a nearby nerve.


A whiplash injury can affect your quality of sleep and lead to chronic sleepiness and fatigue. When you can’t get comfortable due to your neck pain, stiffness, or other related symptoms, it can affect your quality of sleep. You might find that your normal sleeping positions are not comfortable or that your head and neck aren’t as properly supported as you need them to be. Poor sleep for days or weeks in a row can lead to fatigue and feeling like you are constantly exhausted.

If you experience any signs and symptoms of whiplash after a car accident, don’t hesitate to visit a whiplash chiropractor in College Park to get an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan so you can get started on healing and recovery!


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