Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck. It’s also called neck sprain or neck strain.

The cause is typically an abrupt, jarring motion to the neck, commonly a result of a car accident. Whiplash also can include injury to invertebrate joints, discs, ligaments, muscles and nerve roots.

Neck stiffness can be a sign of damage to the facet joint. Cervicogenic headaches are common in whiplash patients, often a result of referred pain from injured nerves. Dizziness can be caused by injury to the upper spine that affects the information being transmitted to your brain, including your eyes and inner ear. Dizziness can also be caused by spasms in the neck muscles. Back pain may stem from damage to the upper back (thoracic spine). Whiplash patients also might experience damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which results in popping or cracking of the jaw, pain with chewing or headaches.

Symptoms may be evident right after the injury, but also may not show up for several days. They include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle and ligament injuries
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Shoulder pain or pain between the shoulder blades
  • Pain or numbness in the arms or hands
  • Back pain
  • Low back pain
  • Jaw pain

Some of the symptoms that may come later include:

  • Memory loss
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep loss
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Depression


  • Chiropractic manipulation

  • Cold laser, electrical muscle stimulation

  • Mobilization and range-of-motion exercises

  • Spinal decompression

  • Myofascial release

Generally, head and neck pain clears within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover within three months of the injury. In general, the prognosis for whiplash patients is very good.

Dr. Aboudib has more than two decades of experience in whiplash treatment. He has extensive post-graduate studies at the The Spine Research Institute of San Diego. He has treated thousands of patients and has served as an expert witness in many court hearings.