Whiplash

(Cervical Sprain and Neck Muscle Strain)

Definition

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that can include:
  • Spraining the neck ligaments
  • Straining the neck muscles
  • Injury to cervical discs
  • Possible nerve injury
Process Leading to Whiplash
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Causes

Whiplash can occur with any sudden, violent, backward jerk of the head or neck.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of whiplash include:
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sporting events that include full contact
  • Falls
  • Assaults

Symptoms

Symptoms often develop in the hours after the injury although they can also develop in the days after the injury.Symptoms may include:
  • Stiff neck
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Decreased range of neck motion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headache
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling extending down an arm
  • Unusual fatigue

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Most whiplash injuries do not show up on imaging tests. Your doctor may order some tests to make sure that no other injuries have occurred.Neck images may be taken to look for further damage. Images may be taken with:An electromyogram may also be done to test for nerve damage.

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