Whiplash is a well known mechanism of neck injury. Characterised by an acceleration followed by a sharp deceleration, which forces the cervical spine into hyperflexion and hyperextension, most commonly resulting in soft tissue injuries, neck pain, headache, dizziness and fractures.(1, 2)Whiplash was once the most common emergency room treated motor vehicle injury in the USA.(3) Despite the fact that patients with whiplash injury very often suffer from short term neck pain(up to 10 days), a recent study has found 40-50% of whiplash patients develop chronic symptoms.(2)
Whiplash can happen easier than you might think! A simulation using vitro cervical spine revealed 3.5 G-force is considered to be the threshold for neck injuries.(4) “Traffic accident data compiled in Germany reveals that over 90% of whiplash injuries result from rear impacts at speeds of less than 25 km/h”.(4)
Fun fact: Backdated to 1995, the reported incidence of whiplash injuries in the Netherlands has a sharp increase in relation to the rise of seat belt use.(3)
Whiplash symptoms including neck pain exacerbated with movement, headaches, loss of range of motion, pinpoint tenderness at the base of occiput and more..(2, 5) In more significant impacts, whiplash patients may experience neurological symptoms in their peripherals such as weakness in the arm and grip strength.(5) Accidents in sport can also cause whiplash injury, especially with reported higher rates of occurrence in football and indoor soccer players, along with the potential of a concussion.(6)
Most occupants in major car accidents would have undergone a medical assessment to exclude spinal injuries. However, occupants in minor car accidents can often be left alone with neck injuries hoping it will get better over time. A Chiropractor can help manage chronic musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain, for the best possible outcome as mentioned in our blog from last week. Chiropractors are a primary health care provider in Australia which means you do not need a referral to see one of us for an assessment. If you are experiencing pain, give our practice a call and see whether we can help manage your concerns.
1. Chen H-b, Yang KH, Wang Z-g. Biomechanics of whiplash injury. Chinese Journal of Traumatology (English Edition). 2009;12(5):305-14.
2. Al-Khazali HM, Ashina H, Iljazi A, Lipton RB, Ashina M, Ashina S, et al. Neck pain and headache after whiplash injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain. 2020;161(5):880-8.
3. Ioppolo F, Rizzo R. Epidemiology of whiplash-associated disorders. Whiplash Injuries: Springer; 2014. p. 13-6.
4. Li F, Liu N-s, Li H-g, Zhang B, Tian S-w, Tan M-g, et al. A review of neck injury and protection in vehicle accidents. Transportation Safety and Environment. 2019;1(2):89-105.
5. Seroussi R, Singh V, Fry A. Chronic whiplash pain. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics. 2015;26(2):359-73.
6. Albano M, Alpini DC, Carbone G. Whiplash and Sport. Whiplash Injuries: Springer; 2014. p. 127-37.
Blogs by the team at Sprouting Health