IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE : All AICA Orthopedics clinics are fully staffed and operational. We’re here to support accident victims and to provide Orthopedic relief to hospital systems in Atlanta during this crisis. Learn More

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Dec 1, 2020

What Are the Symptoms of WhiplashA car accident can be such an overwhelming experience and you shouldn’t have to figure out what’s causing your pain and discomfort all by yourself. While you may want to wait and see whether your pain goes away after a few days, it is actually more helpful for your body if you visit a doctor who specializes in car accident injuries instead.

Whiplash is the most common car accident injury and it is in your best interest to seek treatment for whiplash as soon as possible. But how do you know whether or not you even have whiplash? It can be tricky to diagnose because common whiplash symptoms don’t always show up right away. In fact, some symptoms of whiplash can even show up days after the accident.

Here are a few examples of common symptoms of whiplash.


The stress of a car accident can sometimes be enough to cause a headache so you might not realize it’s a sign of something more right away. However, it is important to pay attention to any headaches you get after a car accident and note how long they last and how severe they might be. It is common for people to get headaches after whiplash because of how much your head and neck were shaken up during the car accident.

Neck and Back Pain

Your neck and back may be tender to the touch after a car accident. When the force of the accident jerks your head forward and then backward, it can cause the muscles and tendons in your neck to strain out of their normal range of motion. This can lead to tears in the muscles and swelling in your head and neck. Inflammation and strained muscles can lead to a tender neck and upper back when you’re suffering from whiplash.

Shoulder Pain

While whiplash primarily affects the head and neck, it can also cause pain and discomfort in your shoulders. Shoulder pain is common after a car accident at the site where your seatbelt crosses your shoulder and chest. When the accident happens, the seatbelt will do its job of restraining your shoulder and upper body, though it can still cause some damage and lead to pain and discomfort. Additionally, if your spine and nerves in your neck are affected by the whiplash it can radiate into your shoulders and even down to your fingertips.

Sore and Stiff Muscles

Any time your muscles are stretched out of their normal range of motion they can become sore. However, in the event of a car accident, muscles can be severely strained or even tear from the accident. When people have sore muscles there is a natural tendency to use them less in order to feel less pain and discomfort. Allowing sore muscles to rest after a car accident can actually lead to muscle stiffness and more pain if you’re suffering from whiplash. As your muscles become stiff it can make it more difficult to turn your neck from side to side without feeling a lot of pain.

Numbness and Tingling

Unfortunately, whiplash can also lead to other types of car accident injuries like a herniated disc. A herniated disc is more commonly known as a slipped disc, and this can happen when the spine in your neck is aggravated by the force of the accident. The discs that separate your vertebrae act as shock absorbers and help to cushion the vertebrae. When a disc slips out of place, it can put pressure on nearby nerves, resulting in numbness and tingling sensations. There are several risks with leaving a herniated disk untreated. The spinal column houses and protects the nervous system, so when the spine is affected by whiplash then it is likely that your nerves may be too.

Treatment for Whiplash

A doctor skilled in treating car accident injuries will know how to develop a treatment for whiplash that is unique to your body, your symptoms, and your needs for healing and recovery. Just like not every person will experience all the symptoms above when they have whiplash, not all treatments work for every person. The best treatment for whiplash is a combination of self-care and treatment options that address your specific symptoms and help address the root causes of pain, such as a torn neck muscle or a herniated disc.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are looking for a Atlanta chiropractor and treatment for whiplash, consider AICA Atlanta. The skilled team of car accident doctors includes orthopedists, physical therapists, and chiropractors who are all able to develop an individualized treatment plan that will work for you so you can get back to your daily routine without any lingering pain and discomfort.