Whiplash is a fairly common injury, most often occurring as a result of a road traffic accident. It is often the result of a driver or passenger in a stationary car experiencing rapid acceleration and deceleration when the vehicle is struck from behind. The term ‘whiplash’ is less than 100 years old. Until around 1928 or so, similar injuries were more often referred to as ‘railway spine’.
The most immediate effects of sudden acceleration-deceleration trauma are referred to as ‘whiplash injuries’. These are specifically the damage to the hard tissues (bone) and soft tissues (muscle, cartilage, etc.) of the neck. Most whiplash injuries heal in time, though a trained physiotherapist can often speed healing times.
Symptoms of whiplash injuries can include:
- Lingering back pain
- Pain and/or stiffness of the neck
- Pain and/or stiffness of either or both shoulders
- Fatigue or dizziness
- Jaw pain
- Weakness or chronic pain in one or both arms
Whiplash Associated Disorders
A ‘whiplash associated disorder’ refers to any severe, chronic condition contracted as a result of a whiplash injury. Symptoms of whiplash associated disorders vary, but may involve some or all of the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Stress and/or anxiety
- Anger and/or depression