Whiplash

Introduction

Whiplash is the informal term used for neck sprain or neck strain. It occurs when the head is suddenly forced in one direction and then, just as suddenly, snapped back in the opposite direction (cervical acceleration-deceleration or CAD).

Such forced motion can cause a wide range of injuries including injury to the cervical discs, sprain of the muscles and ligaments in the neck and damage to the nerves. Whiplash most commonly occurs as a result of a car accident when an automobile is hit from behind but it can also occur in a fall and in contact sports. Symptoms of whiplash include pain and/or stiffness which are the result of muscle soreness due to the muscles bracing to protect the body.

Symptoms of whiplash can develop anywhere from hours to days after the injury was sustained and can last from three to six months. Symptoms include:

• Stiff neck
• Neck pain
• Muscle spasms
• Shoulder pain and/or stiffness
• Numbness or pain that extends down the arm or legs
• Decreased range of motion in the neck
• Headaches
• Fatigue 
• Blurred vision
• Dizziness

Whiplash is often diagnosed with the use of CT scan, MRI and X-Rays.

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