5 Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash gets its name from the fast back-and-forth motion a whip makes when it snaps. If you’ve been in a car accident, got bumped into during sports play, or if someone or something pushed you violently, you might get whiplash. Whiplash occurs when your head moves back and forth suddenly and forcefully, stretching or tearing supportive tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

Expert chiropractor Lloyd Decker, DC, at Reno Regenerative Medicine in Reno, Nevada, understands that the shock of any accident causes your body to release natural painkillers that prevent you from feeling the full extent of your injuries at the time. It’s common for women, men, and children to not notice whiplash symptoms for hours to months after the initial trauma. 

However, untreated whiplash can cause permanent disabilities. Contact a chiropractor if you’ve been in an accident and notice any of the following symptoms:

1. Your neck feels or sounds “weird”

Have you noticed popping or cracking sounds when you turn your head or lift your chin? If you suffered whiplash, neck symptoms are the most common manifestation of injured and overly stretched or torn tendons, ligaments, and muscles. You might also have suffered asymptomatic hairline fractures in your vertebral bones.

The portion of your spine in your neck, known as the cervical spine, is the thinnest and most delicate. It has to work hard to support the weight of your head, especially when you peer downward at your phone, laptop, or other devices. Treating neck problems early enough stops them from causing long-term neck instability.

2. Your shoulders, arms, or hands hurt  

Injured tissues and dislocated or ruptured discs in your cervical spine can press against nerve fibers, causing irritation and inflammation. Even if you don’t feel the pain in your neck, it can radiate to other areas, causing a range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, and tingling. You might feel these sensations in your:


When you don’t treat neck instability and spinal misalignments, they can cause other problems along your spine and all of the tissues that connect to the spine. You might eventually even feel that your legs are weaker than normal, or have trouble walking.

3. You have headaches or brain fog

Whiplash throws your brain against your skull in two directions. Even if you didn’t lose consciousness, you could’ve suffered a concussion, which is a type of bruise on your brain. Some symptoms of an untreated concussion are:

You might also notice differences in how you perceive smells and tastes.

4. You have trouble chewing or swallowing

When your neck jerks back and forth, it can affect all of the structures in and around the neck and head, including your jaw, pharynx (i.e., throat), and larynx (i.e., voice box). If you suffered whiplash, you might develop jaw and throat-related symptoms such as:

Tension or injury in the jaw has been associated with tinnitus, so pay attention to that ringing in your ear. It could be a sign that you suffered whiplash.

5. Feeling unsafe or in a state of dread

The trauma of an accident can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you avoid driving, or have flashbacks or nightmares about your accident or fall, you could have PTSD. Even feeling depressed, anxious, or having a sense of impending doom could be a sign of accident-related PTSD.

You’re all connected

As you may have noticed from the range of symptoms associated with whiplash — which “happens” to your neck and head — every part of your body affects the other parts. That’s why getting checked out by a chiropractor as soon as you’ve suffered an accident or other trauma helps you avoid complications and long-term problems with your neck, head, back, limbs, and even your emotions.

Dr. Decker examines you and checks your entire spine for subluxations (i.e., dislocations) that occur as a result of whiplash or other injuries. As a chiropractor, he knows that health begins with a well-aligned spine. Based on your symptoms and the results of his examination and imaging studies (including X-rays), he designs a treatment plan to resolve your symptoms and restore pain-free mobility.

If you think you have whiplash, contact us today for a screening and treatment by calling or using the online form.

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