What causes whiplash?
Whiplash can occur with any sudden, violent, backward jerk of the head or neck. Most whiplash injuries are the result of a collision that includes sudden acceleration or deceleration. Many whiplash injuries occur when a person is involved in a rear-end automobile collision, or as a result of a sports injury, particularly during contact sports. Whiplash injuries usually
happen to a person who is not wearing a seat belt when a motor vehicle is rear-ended. As a result of whiplash, the ligaments in the neck may be stretched or even torn. Sometimes fractures in the vertebrae may also be involved.
Most experts agree that injuries occur to the neck muscles. As well, there may be straining or cartilagous injuries to supporting structures of facet and apophyseal joints. Injury can occur to anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments. Esophogeal and laryngeal damage has been reported. There are alleged injuries to the brain. This is controversial and far from certain. Injury may occur to the tmj and low back. The injury is usually sustained by the driver or passenger of a stationary car that is rammed from the rear by a fast-moving vehicle. Because the victim is completely relaxed and unaware of an impending collision, the sudden acceleration of the struck vehicle throws his head backward, causing violent hyperextension of the neck. This is followed by a recoil, projecting the head forward into extreme flexion, and finally by a return to the neutral position.Damage to the structures of the neck occurs when the head is thrown back and the neck hyperextends. Vehicle headrests on the back of a seat may limit the range of extension. The neck muscles may be severely stretched, and some of the fibers torn. In the recoil flexion action, the movement of the neck is limited by the chin striking the chest or the steering wheel of the car; therefore, flexion injuries to the spine are minimal.
Whiplash occurs when the soft tissue in the spine is stretched and strained after the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk. The injury most commonly occurs in car crashes involving sudden deceleration, but the injury can also occur in other strenuous physical activities such as diving. Other common causes of whiplash include contact sport injuries and blows to the head from a falling object or someone punching you. Repetitive stress injuries or chronic strain involving the neck (such as using your neck to hold the phone) are a common, nonacute cause. Child abuse, particularly the shaking of a child, can also result in this injury as well as in more serious injuries to the child's brain or spinal cord.
More information on whiplash
What is whiplash neck strain? - Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa.
What causes whiplash? - The most common causes of whiplash are motor vehicle accidents, especially when the vehicle is struck from the rear.
What're the symptoms of a whiplash? - Symptoms of a whiplash include neck pain, neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments, headache, dizziness.
How is whiplash diagnosed? - Whiplash is difficult to diagnose because x rays and other imaging studies do not always reveal changes in bone structure.
What're the treatments for whiplash? - Treatment for whiplash may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants.
How to prevent whiplash? - There are no guidelines for preventing whiplash because it often occurs due to an unexpected event.