One of the most common injuries following a car accident is whiplash. Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when your neck jolts back and forth rapidly.

Since whiplash can range in severity, Mayo Clinic explains the common treatment.

How to diagnose whiplash

When you arrive at the doctor’s office, your physician will perform an examination. He or she will check your head, neck and arms through a range of simple tasks. Poor reflexes, weakness in your limbs and less degree of motion may indicate whiplash. The doctor will examine your neck, shoulders and back for tenderness and pain.

While whiplash cannot show up on an imaging test, the doctor still may order one. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms to whiplash or can worsen whiplash.

The types of imaging tests you may need include:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs
  • Computerized tomography or CT scans

The x-ray can show fractures, arthritis or dislocations. An MRI, on the other hand, can reveal bone injuries, soft tissue injuries and damage to the spinal cord. A CT may show bone damage.

How to treat whiplash

During treatment, doctors will look to control your pain, to help you return to normal life and to restore your neck’s range of motion. The doctor may order rest and over-the-counter pain medication. Also, you may apply heat and cold to your neck for 15 minutes at a time.

In more severe cases, you may require muscle relaxants, prescription medication for nerve and severe pain. You may also require a numbing injection.

Often, whiplash requires rest, physical therapy and follow-up appointments.