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Whiplash, though it sounds like a strange word, renders a victim excruciating pain. It is marked by an injury to the cervical spine by a jolting movement of the head. Neck injuries are notorious for being painful and serious, and whiplash is no exception. Let us look at some of the causes, symptoms, and diagnoses of whiplash.

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The cause of whiplash is almost always associated with a car crash. According to MedicineNet, “The mechanics of a whiplash injury are thought to be as follows: the victim may be first pushed or accelerated forward, pushing the body forward, but the head remains behind momentarily, rocking up and back, and some muscles and ligaments in and around the spine may be stretched or torn. These muscles, in a reflex action, contract to bring the head forward again, to prevent excessive injury. There may be overcompensation when the head is traveling in a forward direction as the vehicle decelerates. This may rock the head violently forward, stretching and tearing more muscles and ligaments” (Definition of Whiplash Injury). Usually, this circumstance appears when someone is struck from behind by another car.

With such a severe physiological issue, many symptoms are bound to arise. The most common symptoms connected with whiplash are: neck pain and stiffness, headache, shoulder pain and stiffness, dizziness, fatigue, jaw pain, arm pain, arm weakness, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, back pain, depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, drug dependency, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and sleep disturbance (MS, Jason C. Eck DO.) Depending on the severity of the injury, the spectrum of which these symptoms occur will be different.

After being in a car crash or accident, it is important to visit your doctor, especially in the case of whiplash. According to MedicineNet, “The doctor will examine the patient to determine if they have any injuries that require treatment. Based on the symptoms and examination findings the doctor may place a collar on the neck for additional support. The doctor may also obtain x-rays of the neck to check for more serious injuries. The most important first step is to make sure there is no major injury to the neck, head or the rest of the body requiring immediate treatment ” (What Is Whiplash?). In the case of the x-ray coming back as normal, yet there is still pain in the neck, the doctor might request the patient to keep the neck in place. This is usually done for a week, and if more pain continues, additional x-rays are taken in varying positions of the neck, or an MRI is completed. MRIs are done when x-rays seem to not pick up damage done by whiplash.

Whiplash is a terrible injury done to the cervical spine that incurs many symptoms. It is commonly caused by a rear-end car accident, and requires immediate attention from doctors in the form of x-rays and MRIs. The best action to avoid getting whiplash is to always leave sufficient space between you and the person driving behind you. However, you cannot always avoid bad drivers.


“Whiplash.” The Free Dictionary, Farlex,

“Definition of Whiplash injury.” MedicineNet,
MS, Jason C. Eck DO. “What Is Whiplash? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Signs.” MedicineNet,

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