Whiplash: What you need to know

Whiplash refers to a series of neck injuries caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck.

whiplash, or whiplash-associated disorder (WAD), is often the result of being struck from behind, for example, by a fast moving vehicle in an automobile accident.

When a blow is struck, the individual’s body is immediately pushed forward while the head remains behind for an instant. This forces the head to rock up and back, stretching and sometimes tearing some muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

The muscles automatically contract and bring the head forward, sometimes too far, and the head may rock forward violently, further stretching or tearing muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Fast facts on whiplash

  • Whiplash can be caused by a collision from any direction, not just behind.
  • It can also be caused in other ways, including abuse, horse riding, and contact sports.
  • Sometimes, the full effect of whiplash is not felt for 24 hours or more after the incident.
  • Symptoms can include lower back pain, dizziness, and muscle spasms.
  • Even a slow speed collision can cause whiplash.

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