Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly forced forward and then snapped backward (or vice versa), as might happen in a car accident or sports injury or while being shaken. This may cause stretching or tears (sprains) of muscles and ligaments in the neck.

Neck pain caused by minor whiplash usually improves within 3 months with home treatment. More severe whiplash may take longer but usually improves in 6 to 12 months with occasional continuing pain.

Current as of: May 22, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics