What is whiplash?

Whiplash is usually caused by a fast and sudden movement of the head, which can weigh 10 to 12 pounds, on the neck. It need only last a second for this application of pressure to strain or tear ligaments and tendons. This movement can be sideways, upwards or downwards and still result in injury. We most often see whiplash injury auto collisions and sports injuries. While symptoms may resolve in a few weeks, long-term instability and degenerative changes in the neck may last for years to come. It is important that you are properly evaluated after any trauma to the head or neck.


Many recognize Sir Isaac Newton as one of the most influential scientists who ever lived. His First Law of Motion states that an object in motion or at rest will remain in motion or at rest unless acted upon by another object or force. This is often seen in auto collisions when you hit another vehicle or they hit you. This can cause the head to snap back and result in a whiplash injury. This is true even at a slow rate of speed or if the vehicle only had minor damage. The structures of the neck absorb the collision forces and this can result in tissue damage. The same mechanism of injury can also happen in sports.

While neck tissue may feel soft to the touch, our tendons are made of far tougher material. Their job is to connect bones with muscles and can usually take a great deal of pressure before becoming damaged. However, as whiplash is generally caused by immediate and unanticipated force, they are often caught ‘unawares’ and lacking the tension that would be ready to absorb an expected impact. The most common symptoms of a whiplash injury include:

  • General neck pain – a constant dull throbbing and sharp pains when turning the head

  • Tenderness and inflammation/bruising along the neck

  • Occasional muscle spasms

  • Headaches

  • Shoulder and top of the spine pain

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Unlike many other back/spine/neck injuries it can take a while – often between 8-12 hours – for the extent of whiplash to become clear. It is not uncommon for someone to suffer an impact that causes this injury to feel absolutely fine for several hours afterward, which is why it is important to take immediate precautions right away. It is also worth noting that whiplash tends to get worse over the following week or so.

Sometimes whiplash can result in other symptoms that are very similar to a concussion. Dizziness, short term memory loss, acute sensitivity throughout the limbs, loss of concentration, confusion and mood changes/irritability are all tell-tale signs that someone may have suffered this injury.

People are far more likely to suffer whiplash related damage by slipping/falling over in a way that results in the neck either being severely strained or making hard contact with a solid surface. Anything from tripping over (forwards or backwards), diving into a pool using a poor technique, having an item fall onto your head, serve as similar examples of how this injury can be inflicted. What is important to understand is that even the most subtle of impacts can be enough to cause whiplash, and the extent of the actual injury does not always correlate to the extent of pain suffered. A slight fall can cause severe long lasting pain.




Whiplash is generally quite simple to diagnose. Most of the time an explanation of the context of the injury and a description of the symptoms will be enough to draw a straightforward conclusion, although expect the medical team or a medical doctor to perform a few physical inspections for muscle spasms and general tenderness. It is unusual that any other scans will be conducted unless there is a chance that the injury may be more severe. If there is a suspicion that it could be a possible severe vertebrae issue then further evaluation and imaging may be required. This can all be decided and discussed after consulting with your medical provider or chiropractor.

What are my treatment options?

  • Physical Rehab
  • Chiropractic
  • K-Laser Therapy

Unlike more serious head injuries, the best way to treat whiplash is by encouraging neck movement. It is very unusual for neck braces to be used as these cause the tendons to tighten and take longer to heal. The early stages of recovering from this kind of ailment are the least comfortable, as your rehab therapist will most likely ask you to keep moving even though the pain may still be increasing. Yet the fact remains that keeping the neck mobile and active will reduce tightness faster and considerably speed up recovery.  They may show you what kinds of stretches and general light exercise will be the most effective.

A chiropractic adjustment can help to restore the proper motion of the joints of the spine, reduce pain, relieve nerve irritation and slow down the degenerative process.  There are multiple techniques that a chiropractor can use to mobilize a joint, such as by hand or using instrument assisted techniques.  Patients suffering from whiplash have responded well to spinal manipulation.

Class IV K-Laser Therapy delivers specific wavelengths of light to promote healing by increasing circulation, decreasing swelling, reducing pain and enhancing tissue repair.  Laser therapy can be extremely beneficial in treating whiplash injury.  Patients often require between 4 to 10 treatments at a frequency of 2 times a week for 2-3 weeks, and then tapered to once per week. 

Unfortunately, stem cell therapy is not a cure-all for every health condition that there is. However, if you are experiencing adversity as the result of an injury, inflammation, arthritis, or pain, you may benefit from stem cell therapy.

Contact us today at Synergy Medical to schedule your initial consultation! Our team of professionals will be able to discuss with you all the ways this treatment may be able to benefit you. Our office is located in Bradenton, FL.