Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Because whiplash often occurs during car accidents, it's common to seek immediate treatment at a hospital's emergency department or an urgent care clinic.
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of the symptoms and the precipitating event
- Information about past medical problems
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
For whiplash, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- Is there a generic version of the medication you're prescribing me?
- Are there any exercises I can do to improve my condition?
- What can I do at home to ease pain and discomfort?
- Should I make a follow-up appointment with you?
- Are there any signs or symptoms I should watch out for?
- What websites do you recommend for further information about my condition?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will ask how the injury occurred and will measure how far your neck can move in a variety of directions. He or she will also check to see if any parts of your neck are especially tender to pressure.
The doctor may also perform a neurological exam to check for:
- Diminished muscle strength
- Abnormal reflexes
In addition, your doctor may ask you a number of questions, such as:
- Is your pain dull, sharp or shooting?
- Do any particular movements make the pain worse?
- Do you have any numbness or muscle weakness?
- Does the neck pain radiate into your arm?
- What kind of medications, vitamins or supplements do you regularly take?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your condition?
- What, if anything, seems to worsen your condition?
- NINDS whiplash information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/whiplash/whiplash.htm. Accessed Dec. 28, 2011.
- Villafuerte JA. Whiplash. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012:5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed Dec. 28, 2011.
- Bannister G, et al. Whiplash injury. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. 2009;91-B:845.
- Isaac Z, et al. Evaluation of the patient with neck pain and cervical spine disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.
- Hudgins TH, et al. Cervical sprain or strain. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/163314371-3/896420369/1678/8.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-4007-1..50007-9--cesec4_70. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.
- Anderson BC, et al. Treatment of neck pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.
- Ho GWK, et al. Neck pain. In: South-Paul JE, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=8152464. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.