Whiplash and Neck Injuries

Dr.Kimberly Huynh

Nov 1, 2021 · 4 min

Disclaimer: The following article is not meant to diagnose or treat neck symptoms. It is highly recommended for you to seek out a professional health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you are experiencing neck pain after a motor vehicle accident (MVA), you are not alone. The most common type of injury sustained in a MVA is a whiplash-type of injury. Of those involved in car collisions, 83% of people experience whiplash which can lead to whiplash-associated disorders.

What is whiplash?


Whiplash is defined as an acceleration-deceleration injury where the neck moves back and forth forcefully and rapidly, like the cracking of a whip. It can occur from a rear-ended or side-impact MVA, or from other mishaps such as contact sports, work injuries, and physical assault.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

Whiplash symptoms may present immediately or may be delayed for days upon impact.

Common symptoms include:

- Neck pain
- Pain and tenderness of muscles of the neck, shoulder, and/or upper back
- Headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances, fatigue
- Jaw tightness and/or clenching
- Tingling and numbness in arms
- Severe cases of whiplash may also cause vision disturbances, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other signs of nerve irritation

How is whiplash diagnosed?

Whiplash is diagnosed with a history and physical exam. In addition, imaging such as X-ray and MRI may be required for more serious cases. Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) is the term given for the collection of symptoms mentioned above caused by an acceleration-deceleration mechanism. The Quebec Task Forces classifies patients with whiplash, based on the severity of signs and symptoms, as follows:

- Grade 0: No complaints about the neck. No physical sign(s).
- Grade 1: Neck complaint of pain, stiffness, or tenderness only. No physical sign(s).
- Grade 2: Neck complaint AND musculoskeletal sign(s). Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of motion and point tenderness.
- Grade 3: Neck complaint AND neurological sign(s). Neurological signs include decreased range of motion and point tenderness.
- Grade 4: Neck complaint AND fracture or dislocation.

How long do whiplash symptoms last?

Depending on the severity of the whiplash the symptoms may resolve within a few months. However, patients with serious cases of whiplash where neck or spinal damage has occurred may continue to feel pain for several months or years. One study found that 20-40% of whiplash patients experience chronic symptoms.

How can chiropractic help?

Chiropractors are extensively trained to diagnose, treat, often co-treating with other health practitioners, and rehabilitate whiplash-associated neck injuries. Treatment often includes educating, soft tissue therapy, therapeutic chiropractic manipulation, lifestyle recommendations, and rehab. The chiropractor may recommend additional aids such as an orthopedic pillow, cervical traction collar, topical analgesics, heat application, and TENS therapy for pain management. Consistent chiropractic treatments can go a long way towards pain reduction and increase flexibility.


Improper to no care and avoidance of movements due to fear of reinjury may result in prolonged symptoms and delayed recovery. The number of tasks may be overwhelming after a car accident such as filing ICBC paperwork, getting your car fixed, finding a rental car to get to and from work, all while coping with the pain. Let us help with your pain. Chiropractic can alleviate neck pain or discomfort you may be experiencing and help you on the road to recovery so you can return back to your daily activities pain-free. For in-detail guidance to get the most care from your ICBC claim click here.

Let us help you with your pain. For a complimentary consultation or any other inquiries give us a call at (604) 496-0626, email at info@paradisechiropractic.ca, or book online.