Whiplash is a nonmedical term used to describe neck pain following an injury to the soft tissues of your neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles). It is caused by an abnormal motion or force applied to your neck that causes movement beyond the neck's normal range of motion.
* Whiplash happens in motor vehicle accidents, sporting activities, accidental falls, and assault.
* The term whiplash was first used in 1928, and despite its replacement by synonyms (such as acceleration flexion-extension neck injury and soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury), it continues to be used to describe this common soft tissue neck injury. Your doctor may use the more specific terms of cervical sprain, cervical strain, or hyperextension injury.
The most frequent cause of whiplash is a car accident. The speed of the cars involved in the accident or the amount of physical damage to the car may not relate to the intensity of neck injury; speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can produce enough energy to cause whiplash in occupants, whether or not they wear seat belts.
* Other common causes of whiplash include contact sport injuries and blows to the head from a falling object or being assaulted.
*Repetitive stress injuries or chronic strain involving the neck (such as using your neck to hold the phone) are a common, non-acute causes.
These signs and symptoms may occur immediately or minutes to hours after the initial injury; the sooner after the injury that symptoms develop, the greater the chance of serious damage.
* Neck pain
* Neck swelling
* Tenderness along the back of your neck
* Muscle spasms (in the side or back of your neck)
* Difficulty moving your neck around
* Pain shooting from your neck into either shoulder or arm