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What Does Whiplash Feel Like?

May 25, 2021

What Does Whiplash Feel LikeWhiplash is considered the most common car accident injury because, while seat belts can hold the trunk of your body in place during a sudden jolt, there’s nothing to prevent your head and neck from getting severely jostled around. Whiplash is especially common with rear-end collisions, especially when you don’t see it coming. That’s because the force of impact from the car behind you can cause your head to snap forward and then backward rather violently, leading to whiplash. If you’ve been in a car accident then a whiplash chiropractor has the knowledge and expertise to help you heal and recover.

Even if you’ve been in a small car accident, you want to get checked out for any hidden injuries. Car accident injuries like whiplash are tricky and can often take time to show up because of the shock and adrenaline you are experiencing immediately after the accident. Once your body has a chance to relax and regroup, you might start to notice some uncomfortable pain and symptoms of whiplash.

Here are 5 feelings you might experience if you have whiplash.

Painful Headaches

Perhaps the first thing you may notice are headaches after an accident. While headaches alone aren’t going to signal that you have a whiplash injury, they may be the precursor of more symptoms to come. That’s because your nervous system is reacting to the trauma of the car accident and your brain and nerves may be working overtime to respond. Headaches related to whiplash may feel like migraines or cluster headaches, where the throbbing and intensity can cause you to feel queasy or sensitive to lights and sounds around you. These headaches may also come and go or get worse with time.

Neck Pain and Stiffness

When a whiplash injury occurs, your head and neck are flung forward and backward violently and that causes the muscles and tendons that support your neck to stretch and strain out of their normal range. Your neck muscles or soft tissues may even tear and you might notice debilitating neck pain. At first, you might experience mild pain and discomfort, but this can get worse as time goes on. You may even start to notice stiffness in your neck and feel like you can’t move your head around as much as normal. Some people even report feeling like their head and neck are stuck in a certain position and movement seems impossible.

Tingling or Numbness

Because your brain and spinal cord are in the head and neck, an injury to this area can also cause symptoms typically associated with nerve pain and damage. These feelings of tingling or numbness can sometimes also be painful and affect other parts of your body. When nerves are damaged or compressed in your neck and spine, it can disrupt communications to the rest of your body. That’s why a neck injury like whiplash can end up causing tingling, numbness and shoulder pain down into your hands and fingers. You may even experience the feeling of your shoulders, arms, or hands “falling asleep”, which is usually temporary. However, with an injury like whiplash, if nerve compression or damage is suspected then it can affect your long-term feeling and movement in these areas if not addressed.

Decreased Neck Movement

Your head is able to move in so many different directions thanks to the muscles and other soft tissues that make up and support your head and neck. If you wait to see a doctor for a suspected whiplash injury then you run the risk of decreased mobility in your neck. That can make everyday movements like turning your head, looking over your shoulder, and moving your head from side to side feel impossible. This can happen if pain and discomfort in your neck after an injury cause you to avoid movements that exacerbate that pain. When you stop moving your muscles after they’ve been damaged then you risk losing strength in your neck.


A whiplash injury can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep and also cause you to feel more tired than normal throughout your day. When your body is experiencing pain, fatigue and sleepiness are natural reactions. You might also struggle with finding a comfortable position to sleep when your neck is stiff or sore. Many fitful nights of sleep can really take a toll on your body and you might feel exhausted when you try to go about your day.

If you were recently in a car accident and feel any of these signs and symptoms of whiplash, then visit a whiplash chiropractor near you to get treatment right away. College Park whiplash chiropractors at AICA Orthopedics specialize in treating car accident injuries of all kinds and have the knowledge and expertise to help you experience lasting relief and a swift recovery.


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