What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is the most common injury that people suffer from in car accidents.  It can occur in high speed collisions as well as very low speed accidents.  Whiplash develops when the head is whipped back and snaps forward very quickly.  The severity of the injury depends on many different factors and sometimes symptoms don’t show up right away.

If you are in any sort of car accident it is important to visit a doctor to have the damage evaluated as soon as you can.  The North County Pain Relief Center has experience with treating injuries from auto accidents, Dr. Elsey can help you determine the extent of the damage and help you treat the root of the issue.

If you are in an auto accident, especially if your car has been hit from behind, you will most likely suffer from whiplash.  The force from a vehicle striking a second car is transmitted to the vehicle being hit, and on to the occupants of that vehicle.  Occupants in both vehicles will suffer from the impact, but the occupants in the front vehicle are often unaware of the coming impact and are therefore they do not have time for the automatic responses the body has to help protect itself.

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury occurring around the cervical spine.  The cervical spine is the name for the section of the spine at the neck.  The cervical spine includes seven vertebrae, basically the top section of your spine.  Your vertebrae protect your spinal cord, the nerves that connect to the brain, as well as supporting your skull.

Your cervical spine normally has a C-shape that curves to the front.  The whole spine curves to distribute the weight of the human body.  The cervical spine has a gentle curve that supports the weight of the head and absorbs shock during walking or running.  The cervical spine is protected by ligaments that can help avoid movements outside of the normal range that can cause damage.

After the impact of a car accident the cervical spine goes from the normal C-shape to an unnatural S-shaped curve.  This S-shape extends the lower portion of the cervical spine, bending it backwards.  The upper portion of the cervical spine is forced into flexion.  Both positions are beyond the healthy range of motion of your neck, though typically the lower portion is moved further out of its normal range of motion.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms from whiplash, but typically you will experience neck pain and stiffness the day after the accident.  The pain may increase over the next few days.  You may experience headaches, shoulder pain, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentration, back pain, arm weakness and jaw pain.

It is important to visit a doctor if you have been in an accident.  Give us a call to get set up for an appointment, if your vehicle is damaged we can arrange transportation to our office.