The term whiplash is applied to a group of injuries occurring to the neck most commonly associated with car accidents.
Hyperextension of the neck both overstretches and damages the muscles and ligaments on the front of the neck as well as compressing the discs and intervertebral joints in the back of the neck. A strong muscle reflex violently contracts the muscles on the front of the neck to stop this extension, snapping the head forward, and unfortunately, this time stretching and injuring muscles, ligaments, and joints on the back of the neck.
Low back injuries are common as well, and may be exemplified if the seat back or cushion were broken during impact. Due to the many variables involved in a car accident, (body position, angle of impact, etc.) a collection of seemingly unrelated symptoms can arise.
Many patients feel fine at the scene and were surprised are several days later they began to feel pain. It takes the body up to 72 hours to develop a typical inflammatory response. This inflammation commonly manifests as pain, swelling, and loss of motion. It may take up to a week before the majority of symptoms are present. It is not unusual for patients to remark that for the first couple days they had only neck pain. By the fifth day, they had developed low back pain that was even worse…