The symptoms of whiplash (like neck pain & spasm) often take awhile to develop. You may feel pain and other symptoms starting about two hours after the initial injury—or it may take days, weeks, or months in some cases before you feel anything is wrong.
Some people with whiplash like injuries improve within a couple of weeks. The more ligaments and tendons are injured, the longer healing may take.
For whiplash caused by car accidents, the severity depends on the force of the impact, the way you were seated in your car, and if you were restrained using a shoulder and seat belt.
Tests show that the soft tissues in your cervical spine have an injury threshold of 5mph—that is, if you’re rear-ended by someone going 5mph or slower, you have a lower chance of getting whiplash. However, most rear-end car accidents happen at speeds of 6-12mph or more.
If you’ve been in a car accident—even if your car didn’t get damaged and you don’t feel any pain—schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.
Although most cases of whiplash come from car accidents, you can also get whiplash from sport injuries. For example, you can get whiplash water skiing, boxing or martial arts. You can also get it if you are injured while playing football or doing gymnastics.