Whiplash happens when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through rapid motions and extreme stresses.  Most cases of whiplash are caused by car accidents where the person has been rear-ended.  This does not mean that  those who are involved in head-on or side collisions are more fortunate, as the damage to the cervical spine is just as bad.  Accidents while riding in a vehicle are often referred to as Motor Vehicle Accidends (MVA) or Motor Vehicle Collisions (MVC).  Other potential whiplash causes, That don’t involve motor vehicles include assault, bungee jumping, rollercoaster, football, falls, equestrian events, and other high-impact activities where extreme acceleration-deceleration forces might be applied to the cervical spine.

The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain,stiffness and reduced range of motion.  Other symptoms can include neck instability, shoulder and/or upper back pain, or headache. There could also be tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates into the shoulder and/or down the arm.

NB- Some patients will also complain of headaches, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), nausea, fatigue.  These are symptoms of concussion and require immediate attention.  I have witnessed many concussions associated to MVAs in my practice, this is due to the brain “sloshing” around in the skull during the cervical acceleration-deceleration. it is also possible from impact against the windshield, side window, or back rest.

In later parts I will explain treatment, insurance and legal advice.