The symptoms of whiplash can vary widely and depend upon the severity of the injury. Symptoms may show up immediately following the event, or weeks after the triggering event occurs.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. A qualified professional can assess your injury and rule out any bone fractures or tissue damage in the neck. Here at the Advanced Spine Center, our physicians have years of experience in treating patients with traumatic spinal injuries. Contact us today to make an appointment with our board certified, fellowship-trained Top Doctors.

Diagnosing Whiplash

Diagnosing whiplash can sometimes be a challenge, especially because some of the symptoms are still not completely understood by doctors. If you think you are experiencing whiplash, however, your physician will most likely use a combination of historical evaluation, physical examination, and imaging techniques.

As with most appointments, your physician will want to know your medical history, as well as that of your family. A description of the events that caused your whiplash symptoms will also be necessary, along with a physical examination of your neck and shoulder region. Your physician will probably spend some time palpating (or touching) the affected region and examining to see if there are any visible misalignments. Range of motion and muscle strength may be assessed by moving the affected area in physician-directed movements. If your symptoms involve tingling or numbness in your arms and legs, your physician may test your reflexes. Using a rubber mallet, your doctor will assess key nerves that your injury may have damaged.

A majority of whiplash cases involve strain and damage to the soft tissues of the neck—structures like muscles, tendons, discs, and nerves. These tissues, although crucial, do not typically show up on traditional X-rays. Your doctor may prescribe an MRI or CT scan to rule out any bone fractures. These imaging techniques also allow for the visualization of any injuries to intervertebral discs. Bone scans, although used less often, may be employed to look for small fractures that are not easily detected by more common imaging methods.

Adult Scoliosis Treatment Options

Pain Management

In mild cases of whiplash, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be sufficient to provide pain relief for some; whereas prescription pain medications may be necessary for others. Muscle relaxers, steroids, or injections may also be needed.


If your whiplash injury led to disc herniation, your condition may require surgery. A microdiscectomy involves the surgical removal a damaged disc to relieve pressure. Further structural stabilization through disc replacement may be necessary to avoid additional damage. Read more...


Whiplash injuries can result in damage to the vertebrae themselves, which can exert strain on your spinal cord or the nerves that branch out from it. Your physician may need to perform a foraminotomy to remove bony obstructions that are causing nerve impingement. Read more...


Whiplash injuries often apply pressure to cervical nerves, generating inflammation, pain, and loss of sensation in the shoulders, arms, or hands. Your surgeon may need to perform a laminectomy (removal of the vertebral sheath) to relieve pressure and reverse symptoms. Read more...