Whiplash causes damage to the muscles, nerves, and soft tissues of the neck when a rapid head movement pushes them beyond their normal range of motion. Whiplash injuries can occur in car accidents, amusement park ride accidents, or any other situation in which the head snaps forward and back quickly.
If you suspect you have whiplash, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, resting from your usual activities can help reduce pain and stiffness and prevent additional injury. Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain if taken according to the directions on the package or your doctor’s instructions. Heat or ice packs may also help ease pain and swelling, but take care to avoid further injury from frostbite or burns. A physical therapist can help you learn stretching and strengthening exercises to heal after a whiplash injury.