Whiplash is a term that is used to describe a set of injuries caused by the sudden forward or sideways motion of the head.  The most common cause of whiplash is a car accident.  Though rear end accidents are most likely to cause this particular minor injury, accidents in which the victim is hit from the side or front can also cause it.  The injury occurs when the spine and ligaments in the neck or upper back stretch or tear.

What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash and other neck and back injuries like it can be difficult to diagnose. This is because they may not appear until several days after the initial injury.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the neck and back
  • Aching in the neck and back
  • Pain or stiffness in the shoulders
  • A pins and needles feeling in the arms and legs
  • Headaches

The Diagnosis of Whiplash

Though diagnosing whiplash can be difficult, there are several rating systems available to do so. One such system grades the injury from zero to four:

  • Grade 0: No neck pain, stiffness or any physical signs.
  • Grade 1: Pain is noted in the neck, along with stiffness or tenderness but the doctor notes no physical signs of injury.
  • Grade 2: The same neck complaints as above and the physician finds decreased range of motion and areas of tenderness on the neck.
  • Grade 3: Neck complaints with neurological signs such as decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
  • Grade 4: Neck complaints along with fracture and/or dislocation of the vertebrae or an injury to the spinal cord.

How to Treat Whiplash

Treatment of whiplash depends on the severity of the injury. In general, a doctor will begin with the most conservative measures first, such as physical therapy. If the injury is severe enough and the accident victim is in pain, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication may be prescribed. The application of heat may help relieve some of the pain associated with whiplash.       


Though most whiplash sufferers recover fully from their injuries, more severe cases may cause permanent damage to the neck and spine. This can cause disability as it restricts head movement and causes persistent pain at the injury site.

As Wisconsin personal injury attorneys, we have seen the full range of injuries caused by car accidents. From sprains and strains to catastrophic injuries, we have seen it all. If you have been injured in a car accident, and even if your case is too complex for other attorneys, contact one of our experienced lawyers today for your free consultation.  We have the experience, dedication and results to handle and, often times, win, the most complicated accident cases.  Call today.  Your life is waiting.  1.800.800.5678