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Expert Care for Whiplash


Ligaments are strong, flexible bands of tissue that connect your bones at a joint. Normally, they stretch with movement and return to their normal position. Whiplash is a form of neck sprain, which is an injury that occurs when a ligament in the cervical spine stretches farther than it should.

It’s important to see a doctor if you have experienced a whiplash injury. Ligaments can actually tear if the whiplash sprain is severe.

Dignity Health offers complete orthopedic care for neck sprain, including whiplash, in the Bay Area. If you have neck pain that you think is caused by whiplash, use our online Find a Doctor tool to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist that’s right for you.

Whiplash Symptoms

The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain that worsens with movement. The pain can take several days to develop or may start immediately following an injury. Other signs and symptoms of whiplash include: 

  • Headache
  • Limited range of motion in the neck
  • Muscle spasms in your neck or shoulders
  • Neck stiffness

If your whiplash sprain has caused spinal nerve damage, you may also experience symptoms in your arms and hands including tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Whiplash Causes

Whiplash occurs when the ligaments in your neck stretch beyond their capacity. In most cases, a sudden force, usually some sort of trauma, rapidly extends then flexes the head and neck back and forth. The most common cause of whiplash is a rear-end motor vehicle accident. Other causes include physical assault and sports injuries.

Whiplash Treatment in the Bay Area

If you suspect that you have whiplash, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. At Dignity Health in the Bay Area, our goal is not only to ease your pain, but address it at the source — so you can get back to enjoying your life pain-free. You doctor will want to assess your injury and may order additional tests, including X-rays, to evaluate its severity and rule out additional injuries, such as broken vertebrae.

In most cases of whiplash, rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicines are the primary treatment. Your doctor may suggest using a soft neck collar to help support your head and relieve pain.

For more severe cases, prescription muscle relaxants and physical therapy and may be necessary. Some people have long-lasting (chronic) complications, such as headaches and neck pain. However, in most cases, whiplash will gradually heal within three months.

Put a stop to your pain from whiplash with the help of Dignity Health. Call us at 844.387.6324 to request a doctor referral.

Dignity Health provides relief from pain and restricted motion caused by whiplash in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.