Whiplash is a common injury when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. While it can be minor in some instances, other people experience lasting effects that greatly diminish their quality of life. The Mayo Clinic explains whiplash, why it occurs, and how it can be treated.

When your vehicle is struck from behind it causes the head to move forward and backward at a rapid pace. Whiplash also results from other situations, including physical assault and certain sporting activities, especially those that involve a lot of contact. This injury is associated with pain in the neck, blurred vision, stiffness, a tingling feeling in the arms, pain in the shoulders, headaches, and problems with range of motion.

Depending on the severity of the injury and the health of the accident victim, more serious effects can also occur. Chronic pain is one possible issue, and this usually happens when the initial effects are more severe. Older people or those who have experienced whiplash before are more likely to suffer from long-term complications than others. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, it is best to visit a doctor to rule out urgent medical conditions, such as broken bones.

Your doctor will use a combination of physical examination and imaging to determine the severity of the injury. From here, you will be privy to a few different treatment options. When the injury is mild, rest is usually recommended. You can also find relief with over-the-counter pain medications and hot and cold therapy. When symptoms are more advanced, physical therapy is also beneficial. Therapy helps increase range of motion while also decreasing pain and discomfort. You may also be fitted with a foam collar, which stabilizes the neck for a short period of time after the accident.