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Also referred to as a cervical sprain or strain, this type of injury typically occurs when a person is suddenly thrown forward in a car crash or truck accident.


Whiplash or neck strain is one of the most common types of injuries that results from an automobile collision, typically when a rear-end motor vehicle collision occurs. Although this is the main cause, it can also take place if your head sharply and suddenly jolts forward or in a backward motion. A sports injury, hard fall, and physical abuse can also cause whiplash to occur. Certain professions may have a greater risk of whiplash.


The first thing a doctor will usually do when a person reports to an emergency room with a complaint of pain in their neck and back after an accident is order x-rays. X-rays will show whether or not there is a fracture that could cause spinal cord damage but will not show soft tissue injuries like herniated discs. A doctor may order further testing such as a CT scan or an MRI.


The course of treatment after discharge from the emergency room will vary depending on the seriousness of the injury.

Some cases of whiplash may resolve with over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. Many people will need to seek chiropractic care and attend physical therapy before their injuries resolve. If pain levels cannot be tolerated while the injury is healing, a doctor may administer a nerve injection to block pain temporarily.

It’s important not to aggravate the injury, especially in the first few days after the accident. Doctors may order a patient to take time off work and prescribe a collar or neck brace to immobilize a patient’s neck while whiplash injuries heal.

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