How is whiplash diagnosed after a car accident?  The diagnosis of neck problems begins with a thorough history of your condition and the involved car accident. You might be asked to fill out a questionnaire describing your neck problems. Then your doctor will ask you questions to find out when you first started having problems, what makes your symptoms better or worse, and how the symptoms affect your daily activity. Your answers will help guide the physical examination.

Your doctor will then physically examine the muscles and joints of your neck. It is important that your doctor see how your neck is aligned, how it moves, and exactly where it hurts.

Your doctor may do some simple tests to check the function of the nerves. These tests measure your arm and hand strength, check your reflexes, and help determine whether you have numbness in your arms, hands, or fingers.

The information from your medical history and physical examination will help your doctor decide which tests to order. The tests give different types of information.

Radiological Imaging

Radiological imaging tests help your doctor see the anatomy of your spine. There are many kinds of imaging tests including:


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Computed tomography (CT)

Digital motion x-ray (DMX)


Bone Scan



X-rays show problems with bones, such as infection, bone tumors, or fractures. X-rays of the spine also can give your doctor information about how much degeneration has occurred in the spine, such as the amount of space in the neural foramina and between the discs.

X-rays are usually the first test ordered before any of the more specialized tests. Special x-rays called flexion/extension x-rays may help to determine if there is instability between vertebrae. These x-rays are taken from the side as you bend as far forward and then as far backward as you can. Comparing the two x-rays allows the doctor to see how much motion occurs between each spinal segment.

McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin get the best results in whiplash cases when there is some objective evidence or documentation of a neck injury.  Whiplash is also called hyperextension/flexion injury.  Soft tissue damage is usually not discernable on imaging tests, however, x-rays or an MRI may pick up irregular anatomical positioning due to inflamed or injured soft tissues such as muscles, tendons or ligaments.  For example, an x-ray may pick up a change in the normal cervical lordosis due to injury to the levator scapulae, trapezius or sternocleidomastoid muscles pulling the neck out of position.  Settlement money can increase or decrease depending on the proof found in diagnostic testing.