What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a type of neck injury, sometimes referred to as a neck sprain or strain, that is caused by a forceful forward-and-back motion.  It is most commonly seen following motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and physical abuse. Whiplash symptoms result from an injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and/or discs in the neck. Whiplash is often a treatable condition, and usually resolves with appropriate care, but it can become a chronic condition causing long-term discomfort.

How does Whiplash affect the body?

Whiplash most commonly presents as pain and stiffness in the general head, neck, and shoulder region. It is also common to experience numbness and tingling in the shoulders, arms, and hands. Whiplash can cause limited mobility of the neck, shoulders, and upper extremities.  Whiplash symptoms can be severe enough to limit the ability to perform normal activities of daily living like self-care, chores, driving, and the ability to work.

Causes

  • Motor vehicle accidents (especially being rear-ended)
  • Sports injuries
  • Falls
  • Physical abuse or assault

Symptoms

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck and shoulders
  • Neck pain with movement
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Blurry vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Memory difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating

Treatments

  • Ice, heat (after the first 24 hours)
  • Neck braces
  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Neck range of motion therapy
  • Prescription muscle relaxers and/or anti-inflammatories
  • Physical therapy
  • Trigger point injections
  • Steroid injections

Treatment for Whiplash in the Greater Austin Area

Whiplash is generally best treated with the involvement and oversight of a medical provider. Treatment is initially focused on conservative therapies such as ice, heat, physical therapy, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatory medications. For severe symptoms, or symptoms that fail to resolve with conservative therapies, interventions like trigger point injections and cervical epidural steroid injections can help to provide relief to patients. Most patients recover from whiplash with these treatments over a few weeks to months, but some patients may experience persistent symptoms for several months or longer.

Woman at elevators in front of San Antonio Eye Specialists sign.

Am I at Risk of Developing Whiplash?

Whiplash can happen to anyone who experiences a forceful forward-and-back motion of the head and neck. People most at risk are those who are involved in motor vehicle accidents, specifically those in which they are rear-ended, as well as athletes involved in contact sports.  The exact mechanism of whiplash injuries is not fully understood, but it has been widely documented amongst the general population. Children under the age of 5 are most at risk due to a relative weakness of their neck muscles in relation to the size and weight of their heads. The best ways to prevent whiplash are to wear a seat-belt when in the vehicle, appropriately adjust head rests in the vehicle, placing children into age appropriate car seats, and avoiding forceful contact injuries.

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"The staff is very friendly and I was seen on time. The intake process was seamless and efficient. Dr. Jarzombeck is always very kind and thorough in her explanations. These folks are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend Greater Austin Pain Center and Dr. Jarzombeck!"

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"Everyone is always very nice and courteous. Dr. Julia is amazing! He is friendly, kind and caring and so easy to talk with.  All the office staff I have had contact with has always been courteous and kind as well. Would highly recommend coming here!"

Lesley C.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can whiplash be treated?

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Yes. Whiplash can often be treated with a combination of conservative therapies under the direction of a medical provider. For severe or persistent symptoms, a medical provider may perform injections to help promote recovery.

How long does it take to recover from whiplash injuries?

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Most patients experience resolution of their symptoms within a few weeks or months when treated under the direction of a trained medical provider. However, symptoms can sometimes persist for several months or longer.

Do I need to see a medical provider if I think I have whiplash?

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Anyone experiencing symptoms of whiplash, or who suffered a forceful forward-and-back motion of the neck, should be evaluated by a medical provider. Medical providers can prescribe medications and therapies to help alleviate symptoms, and also perform injections to expedite recovery and relieve severe symptoms.

Lunch & Learn With Our Doctors

Curious about Spinal Cord and Peripheral Nerve Stimulation? Join our doctors for an in-person lunch and learn session to find out more about these treatments and ask any questions you may have. This event will be 12–1pm, sign up below to receive more details and RSVP.

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Treat Your Whiplash at Greater Austin Pain Center

If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort from whiplash in Austin, TX, reach out to the Greater Austin Pain Center. Our whiplash specialists have experience in treating whiplash injuries, and we’re ready to help provide you relief from your symptoms. For whiplash treatment in Austin, TX and the surrounding areas, choose the experts at Greater Austin Pain Center.

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