Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, usually caused by a sudden forceful jerk commonly occurring because of an automobile accident, sports injuries, or an accidental fall. Sometimes whiplash may also be referred to as neck strain, neck sprain or hyperextension injury.

Neck pain, stiffness in the neck and headache are the most common symptoms of whiplash. Headache may develop immediately after the injury or after a short period of time. Other symptoms include dizziness, tingling or pricking sensation in the upper extremities, shoulder pain and stiffness, and psychological conditions such as memory loss, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are most common if a concussion accompanies the whiplash injury.

Diagnosis depends on the history of the injury and the symptoms. X-ray of the neck may be taken to make sure there are no fractures or dislocation of the cervical spine.

Pain medications, muscle relaxants, cervical collar, neck exercises, ice therapy, heat therapy and physical therapy have been used in the management of symptoms.

Physical therapy can be useful to reduce pain and normalize biomechanics.

To avoid this injury always wear your seat belt and adjust your headrest to a proper height while driving.

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