What is Whiplash?

Whiplash, you hear the term used all the time but do you really know what it is and why it occurs?

Here it is for you in simple terms:

Studies show that a rear-end collision of as slow as 5 Mph can result in what is known as a “Whiplash Associated Disorder” (WAD). (This is the correct term for whiplash used by medical professionals).

Classically, most people will tell you that a rear end car collision is what leads to Whiplash. However, this is not the case, as you can see from the term ‘Whiplash Associated Disorder’ Whiplash can occur in many different ways.

If you follow the definition you would be forgiven for thinking that Whiplash can only be as a result of hyper flexion and hyper extension. However, what is more common is that when a person experiences whiplash it is as a result of the person’s neck not being prepared correctly for the rapid change in movement.

Whether the impact to the person's body came from behind or the sides. This is because the muscles of the neck are not prepared correctly to brace the neck bones and tissue (usually because the person was not expecting to injure themselves). Then by the time they have braced it is too late and the damage has been done.

Also, mistakes are made in treating, where it is commonly thought that the ligaments surrounding the facet joints (little joints that connect each segment of the spine) get sprained due to hyperflexion (too much flexion) and subsequent hyperextension (too much extension) whereas, in fact, a large amount of joint compression occurs as the neck gets taken through and ‘S’ shape curve just after impact seen in the middle picture below.

Here is the classification of WAD injuries just to show you how different each Whiplash injury can be. There are a few different classifications, though this one is most common at the moment, designed by ‘The Quebec Task force”. If you have suffered Whiplash then you would have fallen in to one of these graded categories.