Accessibility View Close toolbar

611 University Drive Ste 214

State College, PA 16801 USA

(814) 234-5271

Open mobile navigation

Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash is an injury caused by a sudden and/or violent jolt of the neck in one direction and then another, creating a whip-like movement. Whiplash is most commonly seen in people involved in motor vehicle accidents, but it can also occur from falls, sports injuries, work injuries, and other incidents. Talk to your patients about whiplash and its treatment.

 What structures are injured in a whiplash?

The ligaments that help support, protect, and restrict excessive movement of the vertebrae are torn, which is called a sprain.
The muscles and tendons are strained—stretched beyond their normal limits. The discs between the vertebrae, which are essentially ligaments, can be torn, potentially causing a disc herniation.
The nerve roots between the vertebrae may also be stretched and become inflamed.
In very rare cases, vertebrae can be fractured and/or dislocated.
What are the signs and symptoms of whiplash?
Approximately two-thirds of people involved in motor vehicle accidents develop symptoms of whiplash. The symptoms often do not develop until 2 to 48 hours after the injury.
Whiplash mostly results in pain and stiffness in the neck areas that are “whiplashed” and in the front and back of the neck. Turning the head often makes the pain and discomfort worse. The pain and stiffness may extend down into the shoulders and arms, upper back, and even the upper chest.
Headache, especially at the base of the skull, is also common in more than two-thirds of patients.
Some patients also experience dizziness, difficulty swallowing, nausea, and even blurred vision after a whiplash injury. In most cases, these symptoms disappear relatively quickly. If they persist, it’s important to inform the doctor that they are not resolving.
Vertigo and ringing in the ears may also occur. Some patients may also feel pain in the jaw. Others will even complain of irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms also resolve quickly in most cases.
How is whiplash diagnosed?
A thorough history of the injury and the patient’s previous medical history are taken. Pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis and/or previous injury, may increase the severity of whiplash.
An in-depth physical examination, with concentration on the neuromusculoskeletal system, is also performed.
When appropriate, X-rays of the neck may be taken.
If the doctor suspects that the soft tissues (e.g., discs, ligaments) in the neck are injured, more advanced imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be ordered.
How is whiplash treated?
Unless whiplash injury requires immobilization, staying active is important. An exercise or stretching program is often helpful.
Some suggest that soft-cervical collar use is inappropriate, as it acts as a “crutch” and encourages a patient to avoid activity. Others suggest that it can help a patient slowly return to normal activities. When recommended, the collar should be worn for no more than one week.
Ice and/or heat can often help control pain and reduce the muscle spasm.
Electrical stimulation and ultrasound may provide some short-term relief. They should not replace exercise and stretching, however.
Spinal manipulation and/or mobilization provided by a chiropractor can also provide relief.
Surgery, injections, and other invasive options are rarely necessary. They are generally reserved for more severe injuries to the discs, vertebrae, and nerves in the neck region.
Can whiplash be prevented?
Whiplash cannot be “prevented,” but appropriate motor vehicle safety measures may reduce the chances of a more severe injury.
Always wear restraints (lap or shoulder belt), and ensure that the headrest in your vehicle is adjusted to the appropriate height.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive latest updates.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

State College Location

Monday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Spring Mills Location

Monday:

2:00 pm-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

2:00 pm-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

Closed

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Locations

Find us on the map

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Chiropractic and Breech Babies During Pregnancy

    If you are experiencing back pain during your pregnancy or have a breech pregnancy, chiropractic can help. ...

    Read More
  • Natural Remedies for Sciatic Pain

    Do you experience sciatica pain? Both chiropractic care and at-home remedies can help alleviate that pain in a natural way. ...

    Read More
  • Chiropractic Care For Pets

    You know how chiropractic can help you, but what about your pets? ...

    Read More
  • Should I Use Heat or Ice for Pain?

    When you're feeling pain, sometimes it's difficult to determine if heat or ice will treat that pain best. This article will help you learn which is best for different types of injuries and pain. ...

    Read More
  • Should I Use Ice or Heat for Pain?

    Did you hurt your knee during an intense game of pick-up basketball this weekend? Or do you deal with chronic pain? Learn whether you should apply heat or ice for particular kinds of pain. ...

    Read More
  • Relationship with Self

    The relationship you have with yourself and the journey to self-understanding is an important part of your overall wellness. ...

    Read More
  • Indoor Activities and Exercises

    Are you preparing for the winter months or looking for exercises to do when you can't make it to the gym? Follow these exercises to maintain a healthy fitness routine. ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Stress - Take a Deep Breath

    Most of us pay little attention, if any, to the daily functioning of our many physiological systems. Our hearts beat, our digestive systems digest, and our various hormones, such as those deriving from the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and pancreas, do what they do. It's all good... until it's not. ...

    Read More
  • Proper Overindulgence Over the Holidays

    Proper Overindulgence Over The Holidays The term "overindulgence" is probably best assessed as a red flag, especially with respect to consistent overconsumption of high-calorie comfort food and desserts during the holiday season. An overall healthier perspective could be described as "indulgence" regarding ...

    Read More
  • The 5 Senses

    The 5 Senses The five senses, that is, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, provide us with necessary information regarding the world around us.1 These precious capabilities enable us to navigate our environment with seemingly instantaneous feedback with reference to our actions and ...

    Read More

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Sign up for more articles