Whiplash is a serious neck injury that occurs as the result of force that jerks your head forward or backward. For example, this often happens if your vehicle is struck from behind.
The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain when moving your head from front to back or side to side
- Intense headaches, typically originating in the base of the skull
- Decreased range of motion
- Tightness in the neck
- Tender to the touch
There are times when a whiplash injury leads to immediate pain and discomfort, but this doesn’t always happen. In some cases, whiplash symptoms may not set in for several hours or days.
Whiplash can be associated with other injuries, such as a concussion or broken bones in your neck or back. This makes it important to seek immediate medical treatment, even if you don’t have extensive symptoms.
The treatment for whiplash differs based on symptoms and severity, but typically includes:
- Ice and heat
- The use of painkillers
- Wearing a collar or neck brace
- Ultrasound therapy
- Massage therapy
Even though these treatment strategies sound simple enough, you shouldn’t attempt to care for yourself at home. You don’t know what type of injury you have, so there’s no way of knowing for sure what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
If you suffered whiplash on the job, such as when operating a motor vehicle or piece of construction equipment, report the incident to your employer and seek immediate medical attention.
Depending on your situation, you may not be able to return to work after your injury. This will lead you to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.