How Whiplash Occurs

Whiplash is caused by acceleration/deceleration movement. During a car accident, there is a sudden jolt. This jolt can cause the head to accelerate forward and cock back. This jerky movement can cause serious strain to the neck as well as the brain.

Whiplash occurs in nearly one third of all traffic collision that are rear end accidents. Biomechanics, the study of how mechanical forces affect living organisms, is useful in explaining how even a "minor" rear end collision can result in a serious injury.

Whiplash, also called neck sprain or strain, is injury to the neck. Whiplash symptoms occur following damage to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.

Effects of Whiplash

Whiplash signs and symptoms may occur immediately or minutes to hours after the initial injury. The sooner after the injury that symptoms develop, the greater the chance of serious damage.

  • Concussion.
  • Inflammation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Numbness.
  • Disc Fractures.
  • Nerve Pain.

Treatment of Whiplash

In order to identify whether an individual has whiplash, a healthcare provider should use one of the following to diagnose:

  • CT scan.
  • MRI.
  • X-Ray.

After diagnosing the injury, there are many various options towards recovery such as:

  • Medication (Tyenol or Advil) (always consult a doctor).
  • Relaxation of the Neck - Relaxation will promote healing of the neck.
  • Immobilization of the Neck - Preventing the neck from moving and to promote healing.
  • Heat or Cold Therapy - To decrease inflammation and promote blood flow.
  • Chiropractic Rehabilitation - To assess if there is any spinal injuries associated with the Whiplash.
  • Acupuncture - Increase blood flow and relax the body.
  • Massage Therapy - Relax the body and relieve tension in the muscles.
  • Physiotherapy - Promote movement and allow the body to return to daily activities and decrease inflammation.

Preventing Whiplash

Whiplash is caused by acceleration/deceleration movement.  Defensive driving skills keep you out of harms way. Be sure your taillights and turn signals are properly working. Allow enough stopping distance in front of you. When you slow down or stop, always check your rearview mirror to see if the driver behind you is paying attention. In addition to this, it is important to decrease the spacing between the headrest and your head and ensure that the headrest is level with your head. This will cause a cushioning effect that will prevent whiplash.


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