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Whiplash (cont.)

Whiplash Follow-up

Depending on the severity of the whiplash injury and the patient's response to treatment, follow-up care will recommended by the doctor as necessary.

Follow-up care may include physical therapy, home exercises, or a visit to a specialist.

Whiplash Prevention

Prevention is the most effective way to avoid whiplash.

  • Always using seatbelts and drive motor vehicles with airbags. Proper adjustment of the car seat headrest can also help keep the neck from snapping backwards.
  • Always use the proper safety equipment when participating in sports.
  • Follow amusement park or carnival safety instructions on high-velocity rides, such as roller coasters.
  • Report suspected child abuse to authorities.
  • Monitor children's activities to prevent falls or serious injuries.

Whiplash Prognosis

The prognosis (outlook) for recovery from whiplash depends on the severity of the injury.

  • Minor whiplash injuries usually resolve within 1-2 weeks.
  • Moderate whiplash injuries with muscle spasm or ligament strains may take up to 4-8 weeks to resolve.
  • Severe whiplash injuries, or those that involve nerve damage or ligament or disc injury to the spine, may result in chronic or permanent disability. These injuries may require future surgical intervention.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

REFERENCES: Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAS).

Hoffman JR, Wolfson AB, Todd K, Mower WR. Selective cervical spine radiography in blunt trauma: methodology of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS). Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Oct;32(4):461-9. PubMed PMID: 9774931.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017

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