What is whiplash, and what are the symptoms?

Nurse Practitioner Jeffrey Penny discusses whiplash and its symptoms. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is whiplash, and what are the symptoms?

Whiplash is an injury to the neck generally from some type of trauma, whether that's a car accident, a fall. Sometimes sports injuries can result in whiplash. It's a sudden jerking of the neck going forward and oftentimes back.

Common symptoms of whiplash are neck pain, neck tightness, decreased range of motion, sometimes a headache in the back.


Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue in your neck, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This condition often occurs after neck damage caused by sudden extension (the neck bending backward) and sudden flexion (the neck bending forward). For example, one common way people can get whiplash is during a car accident.

Its symptoms include:

  • Abnormal feelings, such as burning or prickling in the neck
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain, stiffness or decreased range of motion
  • Headache
  • Muscle and ligament injuries
  • Shoulder pain

Talk to your doctor for more information about whiplash.

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