Preparing for your appointment

By 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
  • Numbness

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?
Feb. 15, 2012