What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury to the ligaments and tendons in the neck and head from a sudden sharp movement. More than 3 million people in America suffer from whiplash injury every year. Approximately 50% of these victims will suffer from chronic pain. Approximately 10% of those people become permanently disabled as a result of their injuries.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash


Headache is the second most frequently reported symptom in the acceleration/ deceleration injury. The pain may be unilateral or bilateral, intermittent or constant, localized or general. It may recur in a consistent pattern or vary greatly in its presentation from day to day. Headaches may be of several types. Perhaps the most common is the muscle contraction headache or the so-called “tension headache.” These are generally associated with occipital or frontal pain and are often felt behind the eyes. They may also be neuropathic or vascular in origin.

Seizures or Loss of Consciousness


Blurred Vision

Visual Disturbances generally take form of blurred vision and may be associated with retrobulbar pain.


Dizziness may be caused by injury to the sympathetic nervous system, by vascular injury, by impairment or by injury to the Central Nervous System as in posttraumatic headache syndrome.

Fatigue and General Irritability

Fatigue and General Irritability are present about 90% of the time. Fatigue may vary from a sense of mild tiredness to extremes of exhaustion and may be associated with restless sleep or insomnia.

Other complaints may include:

  • mood changes
  • dysphasia
  • poor concentration
  • mental sluggishness
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • ruminations about the accident

Source: Foreman SM, Croft AC. Whiplash Injuries. The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002