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Every year, around 2 million Americans get whiplash, usually from a car accident.*

Whiplash Overview

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury caused by the neck bending forcibly forward (hyperflexion) and then backward (hyperextension), or vice versa. Although the neck (cervical spine) has a vast range of motion, whiplash causes movement beyond the normal range.

Also known as neck sprain or neck strain, whiplash is most typically associated with automobile accidents. There are other causes as well, like falls, sports injuries and being punched or shaken.

Symptoms of whiplash may not surface for days, weeks or months after the incident. That’s why it’s so important to visit your WellStar neurologist after an accident. Whiplash can have a serious impact on your future spinal health and can be related to other spine conditions including premature disc degeneration or osteoarthritis.


The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain. A number of other symptoms associated with “whiplash associated disorder” (WAD) include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache
  • Low back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Tiredness
  • Arm pain and heaviness possibly related to compression from a herniated disk

Risk Factors

The possibility of getting a whiplash injury is higher for:

  • Those over age 65
  • Those with extreme paraesthesia, a burning sensation in the hands, feet and limbs
  • Victims of falls from three feet or higher, bicycle accidents, vehicle collisions at high speed or with rollover or ejection. The risk is less in a simple rear end motor vehicle collision

Related Information

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