Pacifica Orthopedics, Huntington Beach, California.

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What is whiplash?


Whiplash is an injury that results when a person’s neck and head are suddenly whipped back and forth in a motor vehicle collision or other similar events. This happens because the neck is forced to go further than its normal range of movement which in turn causes damage to the tissues in the neck and adjoining regions.

Currently, car accidents are the most frequent and common causes of whiplash neck injuries. The intensity of the neck injury cannot be directly related to the speed of the cars involved or the physical damage to the cars, because speeds as low as 25 km/h can produce enough force to cause whiplash to the passengers. Men and women who participate in sports are also prone to getting whiplash due to some of the strenuous activities they perform. You might also get a whiplash neck injury if you are assaulted from behind with a heavy blow. Accidents involving blows on the head by falling objects can also cause whiplash neck injuries.

Other non-acute causes of whiplash neck injuries include common habits such as holding cell phones with bent necks which can cause chronic strain or repetitive stress on the neck. Violent actions such as shaking a child back and forth vigorously in a moment of anger can affect the child’s neck muscles and spinal cord resulting in a whiplash injury.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash neck injury might show up immediately or several hours after the accident. Tenderness along the back of the neck, headaches, and neck pain are primary symptoms of whiplash. The secondary symptoms are swelling around the back of the neck, muscle spasms which are felt inside or back of the neck, and limited neck motions. Pain originating from your neck to either sides of your shoulder or arms should be a cause for alarm after an accident.

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