6 Ways You Can Tell You May Have Sustained Whiplash

Whiplash is a painful condition. You can get it many ways, such as a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or a collision while playing sports. You might have to deal with the pain for a couple of weeks, or as long as a few months in severe cases.

You might not be sure that you have sustained whiplash. Several symptoms indicate it, though. We’re going to go over a few of those right now.

Neck Stiffness and Pain

You should understand that whiplash is a very common injury. 3 million Americans suffer from whiplash annually, so doctors have plenty of experience treating it. Some common ways you can tell that you have it are:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Neck pain

For instance, maybe you were in a fender bender. A car coming up behind you in traffic couldn’t stop in time and struck your rear bumper. Your head and neck jolted forward and backward.

You might not think much about it at the time, but the following day, your neck is stiff and painful. You should find a doctor to check you out, but it’s more than likely you’ve sustained whiplash.

The doctor can suggest treatment options at that point, like a neck brace, icing it down multiple times per day, over-the-counter pain medication, Arnica Montana oil, etc.


You can also sometimes tell you’ve sustained whiplash if you experience fatigue following the injury. Maybe you feel like:

  • You’re not getting sufficient rest
  • You can’t concentrate at work or school

This is another time you should see a doctor. You can describe the initial injury to them and tell them about your symptoms.

Fatigue from whiplash is something that should go away before too long. While you’re dealing with it, you might take a little time off from work or school if that’s an option for you. You may go to bed a little earlier so you can get some extra rest.


Some people experience dizziness with whiplash. They have equilibrium problems if they’re trying to do something as simple as walking down the street or if they try to drive.

It’s an unpleasant sensation. Generally, it should go away before too long, but in the meantime, you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery.

Move slowly. If you find yourself feeling unsteady on your feet, sit down till you no longer have this sensation.


Some people who have whiplash also experience headaches. These can be minor in some cases. In others, they might be so bad that you can’t do much of anything while it’s going on.

Some people describe the pain as radiating from the skull’s base. Others say they’re like migraines.

If you’re going through this, you can treat it with some over-the-counter pain meds. You can also put a cold compress on your head and lie down in a dark room for a while.

Like the other sensations, these should go away before very long. While they’re happening, it’s best if you can get your spouse or partner to watch the kids. If no one bothers you for a while, you should feel better in an hour or so.

Poor Sleep

In some instances, you might not sleep very well with whiplash. You can try to reduce your bedroom’s light by putting blackout curtains over the windows.

You can go to bed earlier than usual if insomnia is the issue. You can also take an over-the-counter sleep aid. You could get one from a drugstore or order some online.


Some people experience tinnitus with whiplash. This is a ringing in your ears that’s quite unpleasant.

It’s like what you might experience after a loud concert or if you’ve just flown on an airplane. There is not a whole lot you can do about tinnitus. You can treat it the same way you would a headache: a cold compress, some downtime in a dark room, and staying away from yelling kids or other loud noises.

Your doctor may identity whiplash through one of these symptoms or several of them. You might also have to deal with difficulty concentrating, irritability, blurred vision, or limited neck motion range.

Whiplash is never a good time, but it’s not something you should have to deal with for very long. Once it dissipates, you can resume your normal routine.

If these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, make sure to see your doctor about it. You might have something more serious than whiplash going on.

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