Should I Go to Urgent Care or Emergency Room for Whiplash?

Should I Go to Urgent Care or Emergency Room for Whiplash?

Apr 01, 2023

What Is Whiplash?

It is a type of neck injury that occurs after car accidents, especially in rear-end collisions. Whiplash is caused by the sudden and forceful back-and-forth movements of the neck and the upper body during traumatic accidents. These movements can result in a range of symptoms, some more severe than others.

Is Whiplash a Serious Condition?

In many cases, patients need immediate treatment after whiplash injuries. The sudden head movements often damage the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck. Therefore, whiplash causes excruciating pain levels for patients, enough to need urgent care at an emergency room in Temple, TX. Further, in some cases, the injury can affect the nerves in the neck, resulting in numbness or tingling in the arms or hands.

How Severe Is Whiplash?

Whiplash can vary in severity so that some cases are mild enough to resolve on their own within a few days. However, it is not the same for all patients. Some people can experience adverse symptoms that can pose life-threatening problems. Besides, the symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately after the injury. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  1. Neck pain and stiffness – is the most common symptom of whiplash, which may worsen with movement.
  2. Headache – you may experience a headache at the base of the skull. The pain will radiate to your forehead.
  3. Dizziness and vertigo – can make it difficult to stand or walk.
  4. Fatigue – it is normal to feel fatigued or exhausted due to the strain on the neck muscles.
  5. Blurred vision or difficulty focusing on objects
  6. Tinnitus – is ringing in the ears.
  7. Shoulder pain or stiffness – you may feel it in the shoulders or upper back.
  8. Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands.
  9. Difficulty concentrating or remembering things may occur – can be short-term or long-term.

When Should You Consider Emergency Care?

Technically, if you experience any symptoms of whiplash after a neck injury, seek medical attention in an ER near you as soon as possible. Although it may not look like a serious condition, the problem can progress with any further physical exertions. Other factors do make you prioritize urgent care for whiplash are:

  1. If the pain seems to get worse as you go
  2. If you lose consciousness
  3. If you cannot identify your surrounding or people that otherwise are family and familiar to you
  4. If you begin to lose function and mobility in your limbs

Dangers of Leaving Whiplash Untreated

Several patients at Express Emergency Room Temple have suffered tremendously because of leaving whiplash untreated. It can lead to various complications, some severe and long-lasting. Here are some of the dangers of leaving whiplash untreated:

  1. Chronic pain – whiplash can cause chronic pain, lasting for months or even years. It can significantly impact your quality of life and make it difficult to perform everyday activities.
  2. Restricted range of motion – the stiffness in the neck muscles will limit your range of motion, making it difficult to turn your head or perform certain movements.
  3. Headaches – severe and persistent headaches can limit your productivity.
  4. Cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating and memory loss – can affect your ability to work or study, potentially leading to long-term disability.
  5. Psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – can be debilitating conditions.

How Do You Treat Whiplash?

The treatment for whiplash depends on the severity of the injury and the individual’s symptoms. Here are some common treatments that doctors may recommend for whiplash:

  1. Rest and activity modification – in the first few days after the injury, rest and avoid activities that aggravate the symptoms.
  2. Ice and heat therapy – applying ice to the affected area for the first few days can help to reduce pain and swelling. After a few days, heat therapy will help improve blood flow and promote healing.
  3. Pain medication – over-the-counter pain medication can help manage pain and inflammation.
  4. Physical therapy – to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility in the neck muscles, especially for people with chronic whiplash.


It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience symptoms of whiplash. With proper treatment, most people recover fully from whiplash within a few months. Work with a healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs and symptoms.

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