Whiplash FAQs

Whiplash is a painful injury resulting from sudden head and neck movement during an accident or fall. The condition earns its name because the forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck resembles the cracking motion of a whip.

What is the most common cause of whiplash?

Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, according to Mayo Clinic. Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear end collisions. Trauma, physical abuse, or other types of accidents, such as sports injuries, can also cause whiplash.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

  • Pain and stiffness of the neck
  • Worsening of pain when moving the neck
  • Limited range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull
  • Pain or tenderness or pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in one or both arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Some people experience blurry vision, ringing in the ears, mood shifts, poor concentration and memory problems.

How quickly do symptoms appear?

Symptoms usually develop within 24 hours of the injury but may take longer in some cases.

Why does whiplash hurt so much?

The cervical acceleration-deceleration motion may actually damage tissues in the neck, including the jointed bones of your spine, the rubbery discs that cushion spinal bones, muscles of the neck and nerves. This damage causes pain, stiffness, and dysfunction.

What is the medical name for whiplash?

Doctors refer to whiplash as cervical acceleration-deceleration, or CAD. The name describes the way the upper part of the neck, or cervical spine, speeds up then suddenly slows down.

When was the first documented case of whiplash associated with car crashes?

H. W. Marshall was the first to write about neck injuries following mild or low-impact car crashes in 1919, in a medical article he wrote for the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal.

Who coined the phrase ‘whiplash’?

Dr. Harold Crowe was the first to use the word ‘whiplash’ in 1928 at a symposium of the Western Orthopaedic Association in San Francisco, when he described the acceleration-deceleration forces that result in neck injuries.

Was whiplash always associated with car crashes?

Before Crowe gave whiplash its catchy name, people referred to the condition as “railway spine.” This is because passengers involved in a train wreck would often develop neck pain and other symptoms now associated with cervical acceleration-deceleration.

When should I see a chiropractor?

After a car crash or other injury that whips your head back and forth, you should always make an appointment with our chiropractor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce symptoms and speed healing.

Why do I need treatment for my whiplash?

Professional treatment will reduce pain, restore normal range of motion and help you get back to your normal routine. Without treatment, you can continue inflicting damage to injured muscles, bone joints and connective tissue.

What is the treatment for whiplash?

Rest, ice, and non-prescription pain relievers work well. Chiropractic care is highly effective in the treatment of whiplash.


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