What is Whiplash?

Neck whiplash is the term given to an acceleration/deceleration injury of the neck. This may cause damage to numerous structures within the neck.

During an acceleration / deceleration injury of the neck, stretching and compressive forces are placed on the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves primarily at the front and back of the neck. This may cause widespread damage to these structures if the forces are beyond what the tissues can withstand.

Whiplash commonly occurs as a result of a motor vehicle or car accident. This condition can also occur as a result of contact sports.

Symptoms of Whiplash

  • Pain and tightness in the neck that may radiate into the shoulders or arms
  • Stiffness and restricted range of motion of the neck
  • Tenderness to palpation
  • Headache
  • Pins and needles, numbness or weakness may be felt in one or both arms, hands and fingers

The pain associated with whiplash may be felt straight away, however patients may experience little or no pain at the time of injury. In these cases symptoms typically increase over the following 2 to 3 days.

Diagnosis of whiplash injury

A thorough chiropractic examination can diagnose a whiplash injury. Further investigations such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI may be required.