What is whiplash?
Often associated with car accidents or other high-velocity incidents, whiplash is a condition that affects the spine. During a traumatic event, forces can injure the physical structures in the spine, most frequently in the neck and lower back. For example:
- Muscles and ligaments may become stretched
- The bones and joints of the spine may be affected
- Nerves, discs, and other tissues may be affected as well
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain, which is often increased with certain movements and can vary from a dull ache to a stabbing, sharp pain
- Decreased range of motion
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Increased muscle tension in the neck
- Headaches or migraines
How is whiplash diagnosed?
To diagnose whiplash, your doctor will review your health history and perform a physical examination. Your physician may also recommend diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, to confirm the diagnosis.
How is whiplash treated?
Treatment of whiplash most often includes conservative measures to reduce pain and restore function. Treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)
- Physical therapyto regain motion and strength in the injured area
- Self-care, including rest, exercise, and application of heat
Most people find relief from whiplash with these conservative treatments. In rare cases, if other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be beneficial.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you
When you feel neck or back discomfort, how long should you wait before consulting the Summit Orthopedics spine team? Dr. Sabers shares his approach to evaluating spine pain, with a list of red flags to watch for.
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