A whiplash neck sprain occurs when your head is unexpectedly jerked backwards and forwards in a whip-like action typically caused in motor vehicle accidents.
These movements produce a significant force, which causes the neck to move beyond the normal range of motion thus damaging the delicate supporting structures of the neck. Whiplash is effectively a sprain of the joints in the neck, these include the facet joints and intervertebral disc.
The other structures that may be affected are the ligaments, tendons and muscles. Whiplash can also result from forceful sporting injuries that cause similar stress to the above mentioned tissues.
Whiplash neck sprains are common. Many people are surprised with the onset of neck pain following even minor accidents some many hours following the accident. It is important to note that even minor car bumps, sporting collisions and everyday mishaps can cause enough whipping of the neck to damage tissues. Whilst the symptoms of whiplash will vary, the following represent the most frequently noticed effects of whiplash:
- Pain in the neck
- Head feels too heavy for the neck
- Reduced neck movement
- Neck stiffness
- Pain into the shoulders and arms
- Tingling/pins and needles in the arms and fingers
- Dizziness, headache, blurred vision and pain on swallowing
- Irritability and difficulty to concentrate