Whiplash is an injury related to the straining of the neck, which has occurred due to an abrupt and/or violent head movement.
Any action which results in sudden movement of the head can cause whiplash but some of the most common causes are car collisions or heavy impacts to the body, e.g. during sports.
Symptoms of whiplash normally relate to the neck, head, shoulders and arms. Pain in any of these areas, as well as soreness or stiffness in the neck, are common symptoms of whiplash. Other symptoms may include headaches and muscle spasms.
Suffering from whiplash can be debilitating, especially if you are in significant pain, but for the majority of people, the pain should subside in a timescale of a few weeks. This may take longer depending on the severity of the whiplash. For pain persisting beyond 3 months, it is advised to seek early specialist help.
The best treatment for whiplash is often to continue to use your neck muscles, moving your head as normally as possible. The condition will usually heal itself if treated this way and the healing process can be accelerated through physiotherapy and basic neck exercises.
Although using your neck when you have whiplash may be painful, this has a much more positive effect than keeping your head stationary, hence it is not advisable to use a neck brace. Pain can be treated simply with paracetamol or prescription painkillers if necessary.
If the pain persists beyond 3 months, it is recommended to seek specialist help who may be able to order any further investigations and discuss any other treatment modalities.