Contributed by Dr. Beau Horner

The most common causes of neck pain are from muscle strains or soft tissue sprains. Yet another common cause of neck pain that doesn’t always immediately show symptoms is whiplash. Whiplash, also called acceleration-deceleration injury, is most commonly caused from motor vehicle accidents. But any kind of trauma to the neck can show signs and symptoms of whiplash.

Some studies have shown that 50% of neck injuries from a motor vehicle crash will continue to show symptoms for up to a year after the crash. The evidence suggests that neck injuries in a motor vehicle crash more than doubles the risk for developing future chronic neck pain. As a result, chronic neck pain can limit physical activity and impact health and quality of life.

When a patient comes in for an initial visit with neck pain that may be related to a whiplash injury, the following steps are taken:
1. Comprehensive patient history
2. Physical examination
3. Diagnostic imaging

If symptoms are mild to moderate, some self-care options are: rest, a combination of ice and heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Aleve. However, when the whiplash symptoms are severe or becoming more frequent, medical care is recommended. These combinations of treatments can include chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, injections, and prescription pain medications. In addition, treatments such as postural correction exercises, neck stretches, an ergonomic pillow, and posture blocks can help neck pain.

The majority of whiplash patients recover within three months. However, it is also possible for whiplash-related symptoms and disorders to become chronic. If you have recently been in an accident or have had whiplash-related symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care.

Dr. Beau Horner is a licensed chiropractor. He provides patient-specific treatment plans that incorporate the use of chiropractic, physical therapy techniques, soft-tissue therapies, nutritional and ergonomic counseling, and home exercises to provide the most time-efficient and effective plan to treat patients with a variety of conditions. His office accepts insurance, personal injury, and accident cases. For more information, visit