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Whiplash occurs when a person’s head moves backward and then forward suddenly with great force. The force can injure the muscles, ligaments and joints of the neck and other spinal areas. In some cases, there is no pain or injury at all.
Whiplash can happen in a rear-end or a side-impact motor vehicle crash.
The main symptoms of whiplash are neck pain and stiffness. Other symptoms include:
- aching in the arms,
- feeling lightheaded,
- ringing in the ear (tinnitus),
- memory loss,
- difficulty swallowing, and
- jaw pain.
Symptoms may appear immediately after the transport accident or they could appear a few hours or days after the accident.
Many people recover from a whiplash injury within a few days or weeks. For others, it may take several months to experience improvements in symptoms. Each person will take a different amount of time to recover because each person's injury is different.
These resources can help you to take control of your recovery.
Whiplash injury recovery
This self-help guide is designed to help you recover from whiplash injury and to supplement care being provided by a health professional.
This booklet contains a program of exercises to help reduce neck pain and aid recovery from a whiplash injury.
Published by Motor Accident Insurance Commission and content produced by the University of Queensland, authors Emeritus Professor Gwendolen Jull and Professor Michele Sterling.
Whiplash Navigator is a self-directed program to guide people in their recovery after a whiplash injury.
Developed as a joint project between experts at the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney.