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What is “Whiplash”?

img-3Whiplash is often the result of rear end auto accidents. Whiplash can result from injury to the neck or cervical area caused by an accident or automobile collision. Whiplash is known as a cervical hyperextension-hyperflexion injury. The resulting neck injury is not always known right at the time of the accident. Whiplash received its name from the mechanism of the injury. Whiplash is caused by forces from a rear end collision which forces the neck and head to accelerate forward, which results in snapping the head and neck backwards, in a whip-like motion. This hyperextension injury causes the neck muscles, ligaments and fibers to stretch very rapidly, and ultimately results in the muscles becoming ruptured. Hyperflexion then occurs, which is a serious and sudden contraction of the neck muscles. Whiplash symptoms may not come on for several hours or days after the accident. Whiplash can result in serious and permanent injury to the cervical spine. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the cervical region. These symptoms can worsen with movement of the cervical area. Pain can radiate from the cervical area to the shoulder and/or down the arm, and can cause radiating pain down both shoulders and arms. Pain can radiate as far down as to the hand or hands. Symptoms can include TMJ pain, eye pain, hearing loss, dizziness, upset stomach, and problems with attention, memory and concentration. Patients need to be evaluated for post-concussion syndrome as well.

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