What is a Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash is a general term used for forceful flexion and/or extension of the neck. Medical the term whiplash can be called a hyperflexion/hyperextension injury. The typical mechanism of injury is a rear-end collision with the injured person's vehicle in a stopped position. When the vehicle is hit from behind, the vehicle is forced forward; the person's head is ramped over the headrest then forcefully moves forward and backwards. If you were to look at a video of a whiplash injury, you would see the neck whipping back and forth. The term whiplash is synonymous a cervical strain/sprain but that is not always true. Understanding these injuries requires a quick anatomy lesson.
General Anatomy of Whiplash Injury
The head and neck region is made of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. The vertebral column's main purpose is to protect the spinal cord. The neck consists of 7 vertebrae. Ligaments attach from bone to bone to keep the bones in check. Muscles move the bones in the neck and they attach to the bones by tendons. The discs are cartilaginous structures that sit in between the vertebrae and act as a shock absorber. Finally, the spinal cord runs from the base of the skull down to the lower back and at each vertebral level a nerve comes off the cord leaves the spinal column and supplies nerve supply to the particular area of the body.
Injuries/Symptoms from Whiplash
Because there are a lot of structures involved in the neck, a whiplash can injure any or all of these structures causing a number of symptoms to include:
- Neck pain and spasm
- Nerve pain, numbness, tingling
- Herniated discs
- Broken vertebrae
- Torn muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Vertigo or dizziness
Many people equate a whiplash to a simple strain/strain injury but as you can see the injuries can range from a mild strain to severe spinal cord injury. The term whiplash in and of itself tells no one about the severity of the injured person's condition.
If you have any questions about whiplash injuries caused by a Florida accident, call Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168 .