Neck injuries are common in an auto accident and can be painful in their own right. Commonly called "whiplash", neck injuries usually are associated with rear-impact collisions. Whiplash occurs when the soft tissues in the neck (containing nerves, muscles and ligaments) are damaged. Symptoms of whiplash include headaches and neck pain. Common symptoms of a neck injury include headaches, tightness in the neck and inability to turn the neck without pain. Some whiplash victims experience numbness, tingling and radiating pain into the shoulders.
Chiropractors are leaders in the care of whiplash-type injuries. A doctor can properly determine the severity of a whiplash injury and whether any structural damage occurred to the area. Common treatment includes wearing a collar to immobilize the neck, and a doctor usually will prescribe pain medication or muscle relaxants to relieve tension. Further treatment from a physical therapist or chiropractor might be necessary. In severe whiplash injuries, symptoms will not subside even after several weeks, and further diagnostic testing is necessary to determine if surgery is needed.