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Whiplash most commonly occurs in a vehicle accident when a car or truck slams into the rear-end of another vehicle. This action results in the driver of the struck vehicle undergoing rapid head movement which puts a strain on the muscles, ligaments. tendons and the cervical spine.

A definitive diagnosis of whiplash is often elusive, but whiplash frequently comes with a variety of symptoms.

The symptoms

The Mayo Clinic describes whiplash as a rapid, back-and-forth movement of the neck akin to the cracking of a whip. The symptoms of the condition manifest themselves in a variety of ways and usually begin within a couple of days of the accident. Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Neck and pain stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness

Accident victims might also experience blurred vision, depression, ringing in the ears or memory issues. The severity of whiplash symptoms depend upon such factors as the intensity of the accident, the age of the patient, the health of the patient and the presence of pre-existing neck pain. Whiplash symptoms can last for just a few days or linger for weeks, months or even years.

The treatment

For treatment of whiplash, WebMD recommends going to the doctor or a hospital if neck pain radiates down the arms or legs after an accident. Patients who experience headaches, tingling and vision changes should also seek out medical attention. To relieve muscle tension, the application of ice to the painful area, followed by dry or moist heat, is often helpful. The site also recommends the use of mild pain relievers and reduction of neck movement. More advanced treatments include muscle relaxants, cervical collars and physical therapy.