Pain from whiplash is mainly from damage to the facet joints, not the muscles. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness. Patients can also experience headaches, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain, paresthesias (pins and needles feeling), numbness, weakness, dizziness, vision changes, vertigo, difficulty swallowing, and fatigue.
Almost half of patients can develop chronic pain which is pain lasting longer than 3 months.
The chances of a full recovery become less if the whiplash is severe and accompanied by neurological deficits, arm pain, headaches, or the need for hospitalization.
Slower recovery can be associated with old age or prior neck pain. Whiplash injuries tend to be worse in females or in cases where medical care is not immediately sought or available.
Chronic pain from whiplash can lead to depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. It can also lead to a heightened sensitivity to pain or touch at the site of the injury as well as in other areas. This is called hyperalgesia.