Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Health A-Z

Whiplash - Symptoms of whiplash

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

Whiplash causes pain, stiffness and loss of movement in the neck. You may also experience headaches, muscle spasms and pain in your arms or shoulders.

If you have whiplash, the ligaments in your neck will be overstretched. This is known as a sprain.

Hyperextension and hyperflexion are where the tendons and ligaments of the neck are forcefully extended or flexed beyond their normal limits.

Although the ligament is not broken, a sprain can often take a long time (sometimes several months) to heal. After an accident, the symptoms of whiplash often take a while (6-12 hours) to develop.

Any inflammation and bruising that occurs in neck muscles will not usually be evident at the time of the accident.

Neck pain and stiffness is often worse on the day after the injury and may continue to get worse for several days afterwards.

Whiplash is usually short lived and self-limiting, but in a small percentage of people symptoms persist beyond six months when the condition becomes chronic.

Common symptoms of whiplash include:

Less common symptoms of whiplash can include:

Following a whiplash injury, the symptoms of dizziness, headaches and blurred vision should only last a short period of time. You should visit your GP if any of these persist.

Sometimes, whiplash can also cause memory loss, poor concentration and irritability.

Chronic whiplash

Symptoms associated with chronic (long-term) whiplash are:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • persistent headache
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles (paraesthesia) in the arms and hands
  • psychological and emotional symptoms, such as anxiety and depression

Read more about how chronic whiplash is treated.

Medical Review: August 21, 2012
Next Article:

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
smiling african american woman
Best kept secrets for beautiful hair
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?
nappy being changed
How to change your baby's nappy
woman using moisturizer
Causes and home solutions
assorted spices
Pump up the flavour with spices
bag of crisps
Food cravings that wreck your diet
woman with cucumbers on eyes
How to banish dark circles and bags
probiotic shakes
Help digestion
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting