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What Is Whiplash

Whiplash is a sudden forceful forward and backward movement of the head, which traumatizes or injures the neck.  The whipping like motion is termed cervical (neck) acceleration-deceleration (backward-forward) injury (aka CAD).

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries related to car accidents, especially rear-end type accidents. People who have had this type of injury tend to refer to it as a stiff, sore, or sprained neck.

While many people who have had a whiplash injury feel better within a few days to a few weeks, it’s estimated that 50% of people who suffer a whiplash injury end up developing a long-term disability.

Needless to say, it’s one of the most frequently claimed injuries on auto accident insurance policies, with more than two thirds of all claimed injuries in the US being whiplash related, costing close to $10 billion in estimated economic costs each year.

Whiplash Symptoms

While many symptoms start within a short time of the accident or injury, whiplash symptoms can take up to 3-6 months to make themselves known in some cases.  This is because the body will do all it can to compensate around the injury and symptoms, trying to maintain normal functioning as much as possible.  Once these compensation mechanisms in the body become exhausted, the injury symptoms begin to surface, and by this time, there is an increased risk of a long-term disability developing, such as long-term pain and headaches.

Therefore, it’s important to promptly see your doctor after an accident, even if you feel “good” or “normal” after a whiplash type accident. Requesting an xray will help your doctor determine if there is an injury that needs attention.


  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain or stiffness
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
  • Stiff back
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep changes
  • Memory lapses
  • Brain fog
  • Trouble focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness that wasn’t present before
  • Mood changes
  • Tinnitus (ringing in ears)

Causes Of Whiplash

The most prevalent cause of whiplash is from rear-end type auto accidents.  Whiplash can also happen with any type of similar whip like motion that causes sudden and forceful backward-forward movement of the head.  Sports injuries, falls, head injuries, carnival rides, turbulence while flying, skiing accidents, horse back riding accidents, being shaken, or experiencing physical violence.

Whiplash Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask you about the incident and ask for detailed symptoms, including how severe they are.  Also, they will ask about your accident and injury history and give you a physical exam.  You will likely be asked to get an x-ray, or an mri depending on the circumstances. You will be asked to move your head and shoulders, and extend your arms. Your reflexes, range of movement, and associated pain or tenderness will be assessed.

While a whiplash injury, per se, will not show up on scans (mri, ct scan, x-ray), issues such as fractures, dislocations, arthritis, disc disease, spinal cord damage, ligament damage, etc will be visible.

Whiplash Treatment

Your doctor will likely prescribe rest and tylenol.  Beyond that, you may be prescribed muscle relaxers or physical therapy. The goal is to reduce the pain, increase range of movement related to your neck, and get you back to normal daily activities.

People have also successfully utilized yoga, relaxation techniques, warm baths, chiropractic, gentle stretching, ice packs, foam collars, and CranioSacral Therapy.

CranioSacral Therapy For Whiplash Injuries

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) has a proven track record of helping reduce pain, stiffness, and development of long-term disability from these types of injuries.  It is gentle, which helps to body relax and release the trauma and injury from the soft tissues more quickly than other, more invasive types of therapy.

CST addresses strain in all of the soft tissues – muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal membranes and nerve roots, and the cranial membranes, which helps your body heal more completely and decreases the risk of developing long-term pain and disability.

If there are any previous injuries or traumas, CST can help your body release and heal from those as well.

Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy For Whiplash Injuries

  • Quick relief of pain and stiffness
  • Decreased risk of long-term disability
  • Increased range of movement
  • Healing of all soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal membranes and nerve roots, and cranial membranes
  • Better sleep
  • Better focus and memory
  • Complements other types of therapy
  • Increased energy
  • Helps your body to heal more completely
  • Quick return to normal daily activities

As with other therapies and treatment protocols, each person responds differently with CranioSacral Therapy.  Health status, chronic disease, medication, previous injuries, are all factors in outcomes.  Please call for a complimentary consultation to discuss your particulars and goals.