Whiplash is an injury to the connective tissue (or soft tissue) of the neck resulting from a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head causing the muscles in the neck and back to push beyond its ordinary range of motion resulting in what is called a strain or a sprain. It is a very common injury for someone who was involved in a rear-end collision. The term itself is actually an umbrella term for CAD and WAD.
CAD stands for Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration, which describes the mechanism or the means by which injury occurs. During a rear-end accident, forces are transmitted through the vehicle, relatively, to the occupants inside. The result is, generally, that the hips of the occupant are push forward (a process known as extension) while the head moves backward (a process known as flexion)
WAD stands for Whiplash Associated Disorders which describes the injuries and associated symptoms germane to experiencing a CAD event. Individuals who experience whiplash can exhibit symptoms ranging from the mild to the severe. Often individuals experience neck and lower back pain with reduced range of motion and weakness Headaches are not uncommon even in the absence of an occupants head making contact with the interior compartment of the vehicle. Some experience radiating pain, numbness or tingling down their legs (sciatica) or across their arms (radiculopathy). Chronic neurological conditions can occurv where the injure is severe, such as injuries involving fracture. Several studies have examined a psychological connection to patients who develop ongoing consistent chronic pain from the time of the whiplash injury.
Generally, people suffering from whiplash are able to fully recover within a few months. However, in certain cases and when there is a true injury to the spine, whiplash can have lasting effects and may require treatment. A chiropractor or physical therapist will work with you in and out of the office, and arming you exercises to perform at home which will loosen the stiffness, strengthen the muscles and alleviate the pain and discomfort. Getting you back to normal sooner.
If you have been in a car accident, do not take chances with your health, get checked out. Go to the emergency room, or call your Primary Care Physician. Tell them what had happened.