When to Get Checked for Whiplash After a Car Accident

If you were recently in a car accident, you know how stressful of an experience it can be! It doesn’t matter if you were in a minor fender-bender: if your car has any damage,your body has likely suffered some damage too. A car accident can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed, so you might not recognize the signs and symptoms of an injury right away. Your body may be pumping with adrenaline which is great for a crisis but can actually mask symptoms of an injury like whiplash. That’s why we always recommend you get checked out after a car accident, even if it was just a small collision. A whiplash injury can have delayed symptoms which may take hours or even days to appear. However, when you visit a doctor or chiropractor who specializes in car accident injuries, they can diagnose an injury like whiplash and get you started on a treatment plan right away.

What Is Whiplash?

You might be surprised to know that whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Millions of people experience whiplash every year after a car accident. When another vehicle hits your car, the sudden force of impact can cause your head and neck to violently snap forward and backward. Your neck muscles will stretch to accommodate this sudden movement, which can lead to strained or even torn muscles. The part of your spine in your neck that helps hold up your head can also experience a lot of pressure from this sudden, forceful movement. The spinal discs that separate each vertebra in your spine can become damaged and may slip out of place, putting pressure on nearby nerves. Swollen and strained muscles can become inflamed due to the injury and also compress nerves and other nearby tissues. All these responses to whiplash can restrict your head and neck movements, leaving you with pain, stiffness, and tenderness.

5 Common Whiplash Symptoms

If you start to experience any of these common symptoms, you want to talk to a car accident chiropractor near you right away to get the treatment and care you need.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is the most common whiplash symptom. Neck muscles strained during the accident can become tender and sore. You may notice your neck feels tender and warm to the touch due to muscle damage and inflammation in the area. As your muscles continue to react to the injury, they can start to become tense, and you might experience an increase in pain when you try to turn your head from side to side or up and down.

Neck Stiffness

In the hours and days after the accident, you may develop stiffness in your neck. Damaged neck muscles and tendons can respond to the whiplash injury by making it more difficult to move your head and neck. A whiplash injury can cause neck stiffness, where you are unable to fully move your head around like you normally would.


You may also develop headaches after a whiplash injury. Headaches can occur when inflammation in your neck aggravates nearby nerves and sends signals to your brain that an injury has occurred. Pain can also radiate from your damaged neck muscles and into your head, causing pain that presents as headaches. Because the force of impact can also impact your head, you may also experience headaches because of how your brain was jostled around during the accident. If you experience multiple headaches after a car accident and whiplash injury, your doctor may also want to rule out another head injury like a concussion.

Back Pain

Back pain is also common with a whiplash injury as your back muscles may have to work overtime to support your strained and sore neck muscles. Pain in your head and neck can also cause you to tense the muscles in your shoulders and back, which causes even more pain and discomfort. It can also be uncomfortable to hold your head in certain ways after an accident, which can put additional stress and strain on your back.

Tingling & Numbness

It is also possible for a whiplash injury to negatively impact nerves, leading to tingling and numbness. If a nerve becomes compressed, it can misfire, sending the wrong signals out into the body. A compressed or pinched nerve can cause tingling and numbness that may radiate into your extremities. A whiplash injury that primarily impacts your neck and upper back may cause pain, tingling, and numbness in your shoulders and into your arms and hands.

When to Get Checked for Whiplash

Whether you notice a dull, aching pain or a sharp, stabbing pain, you want to get checked out by a car accident doctor as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have any symptoms at all, a car accident chiropractor can check you for whiplash and may recognize the signs before you do. Symptoms of whiplash can develop gradually, so what starts out as a mild headache after the accident can turn into worsened pain and discomfort in your head, neck, and upper back. The sooner you see a doctor after a car accident, the sooner you can know whether you have been injured. A car accident injury like whiplash can negatively impact your life if you don’t get quality treatment and care. Don’t let your symptoms get worse before you see a doctor for a car accident injury like whiplash.


Whiplash Treatment & Recovery

Treatment options for whiplash will depend on your symptoms and the severity of your injury. In general, your car accident doctor should recommend conservative and non-invasive treatment approaches when possible. Most mild to moderate whiplash injuries can be treated with non-invasive or minimally invasive treatment options. Treatment for whiplash will involve pain management and supporting the healing of damaged neck muscles. Applying ice to your neck can help reduce inflammation and also provide a soothing, temporary numbing effect to the area to help with the pain. Your car accident doctor may also recommend over-the-counter medications to help reduce pain and swelling.

For a drug-free approach to treating whiplash, a car accident chiropractor will use all-natural techniques to reduce your pain and inflammation. Chiropractic care for car accident injuries like whiplash may include spinal adjustments to help resolve any misalignments. Your chiropractor may also recommend soft tissue mobilization and walk you through safe and effective stretches to help you gently regain the range of motion in your neck. Stretches and exercises can help strengthen damaged neck muscles and improve the stability of your spine. Chiropractic adjustments also provide the whole body with benefits, including improved functioning of the nervous system.  

Avoid the long-term effects of whiplash when you get started on treatment for your car accident injury as soon as possible. Your car accident chiropractor will work with you on gently and carefully stretching your stiff, sore neck muscles. You can begin to experience relief from pain and other whiplash symptoms within days of beginning treatment soon after the accident. If you notice any lingering pain, then talk to your car accident chiropractor as soon as possible. Waiting to see a doctor after a car accident can make it more challenging to recover from injuries like whiplash.

At Killeen Chiropractic, our teams of car accident chiropractors work with you one-on-one to help relieve your whiplash symptoms and get you back to your daily life. We want to help you through the recovery process and help set you up for success with chiropractic care that benefits your overall health and well-being.