Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of head and neck injuries resulting from an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck.
These forces may result in painful injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the neck and other spinal areas. However, sometimes they may result in no injury or pain at all.
Whiplash differs in severity from patient to patient, and as such, symptoms vary between cases. Directly after impact, patients may not be aware of any neck swelling or bruising. Symptoms typically arise between 12 and 24 hours after the accident. However, pain and stiffness from whiplash is typically worse on the day following the accident and may continue to worsen with each day.
While car collisions are the most common cause of whiplash, there are a number of other activities and accidents with a strong enough impact to cause whiplash:
- Contact sports (rugby, boxing, karate, football)
- A horse-back riding or cycling accident
- Any fall which causes the head to jolt backwards suddenly
- Direct impact of large or heavy object on head