What is whiplash?

Whiplash is the painful condition that arises from the sudden, involuntary hyperextention of the neck muscles. This condition most commonly arises from car accidents, though it is not limited to that. Here is the mode in which whiplash may arise:

  • Your body (or an object your body is sitting on or in) is hit from the rear, causing you to move forward. Your head, being heavier than your neck, does not move forward but falls backward, causing the muscles in the front of your neck to strain and tighten. The bones in your neck are jammed together, causing irritation and possible damage to the delicate discs between your vertebrae. This step takes less than one second.
  • The movement of your body stops but your head, now forced to move forward, cannot stop and flies forward and down, causing the muscles in the back of your neck to now strain and tighten. This step also takes less than one second.
  • After all of the movement has stopped your neck can once again support your head, though without you being aware that the essential muscles used to support your skull have been strained, with microscopic tears in the tissue.
  • Pain begins after a delay, which can sometimes take days to weeks, due to the intricate nature of the muscles in your neck.


There are different levels of severity in a whiplash injury, so every person will react differently to an accident. However, here are the most common symptoms associated with whiplash:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Low back pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Treatment and Recovery

The treatment for whiplash injuries is usually simple and effective, especially when commencing immediately after the accident has occurred. At the Head Neck and Spine Center of San Diego we can begin immediate chiropractic treatment for the strained muscles, misaligned vertebrae, restricted movement, and pinched nerves that are caused by whiplash. With continuing treatment most patients see relief within six to nine months. However, if your injuries require more aggressive treatment we have an extensive network of Pain Management specialists, Orthopedic Surgeons, and Physical Therapists that we would be happy to schedule you time with. If you have any of the above symptoms, or have recently been involved in a car accident, please call us to set up a free consultation!