How Do You Know If You Have Whiplash?

Wondering if you have whiplash? If you feel a stiffness in your neck and are having trouble moving your head, there is a chance that you have whiplash. Whiplash is a neck strain or injury that happens when you forcefully jerk your head backward or forward. The unexpected movement stretches and rips the tendons and muscles in your neck.


Whiplash injuries usually occur after a car accident, athletic injury, fall, or slip.  The good news is that whiplash injuries can clear up on their own over time. But you should always see your doctor if you experience discomfort after an accident. Do not take it for granted that your injury is mild and will heal on its own.


Here is how to know if you have whiplash.


Common Warning Signs of Whiplash


The pain of a whiplash injury is usually hard to overlook. The warning signs may include the following.


Neck Pain


Dull, throbbing pain in your neck that makes it hard to move your head from one side to the other. The discomfort can range anywhere from minor to tingling to agonizing depending on the force of the injury.




Being unable to move your head easily without aching. Your neck may feel rigid, making it impossible to stretch or bend as the pain becomes worse.


Reduced Range of Movement in the Neck


The range of motion in your neck may become painful or stiff after a whiplash injury. This is because the sudden motion injures the bones in your spine and tissues in your neck.


Headaches at the Back of Your Head


Pain at the base of your skull where the neck meets the head. The pain may move up to the temple and spread to the rest of your head, and the discomfort may be infrequent or constant.


Discomfort in the Shoulders, Arms, and Upper Back


A whiplash injury in the upper back can stretch and tear your ligaments, tendons, and muscles, resulting in pain in your shoulders, arms, and upper back. Pain in the upper back can develop right after a whiplash injury or gradually over days, weeks, or months.


Muscle Twinges


Whiplash injuries can cause the affected muscles to contract forcefully and hamper the ability of the muscles to relax. This can cause sudden, intense pain in your muscles that may go away quickly or leave your muscles cramping.




If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, see your doctor to get a correct assessment. The assessment will include a physical checkup, followed by an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray if the results from the checkup point to a whiplash injury. It is important to get an accurate assessment to rule out tissue or bone damage that can worsen the symptoms.


For more information about how to know if you have whiplash, visit Whiplash Pain Center at our offices in Summerville, North Charleston, or Charleston, South Carolina. You can call (843) 281-7837, (843) 636-7246, or (843) 972-7246 today to book an appointment.

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