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Whiplash Overview

Whiplash is a nonmedical term used to describe neck pain following an injury to the soft tissues of the neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles). It is caused by an abnormal motion or force applied to the neck that causes movement beyond the neck's normal range of motion. It is usually caused by a flexion-extension motion of the neck that pulls and strains the neck muscles and ligaments.

  • Whiplash happens in motor vehicle accidents, sporting activities, accidental falls, and assault.
  • Synonyms for whiplash include acceleration flexion-extension neck injury and soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury. A doctor may use the more specific terms of cervical sprain, cervical strain, or hyperextension injury.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014
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Whiplash - Symptoms

Please describe the symptoms related to your whiplash?

Whiplash - Causes

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Whiplash Symptoms

Symptoms of whiplash are pain and stiffness in the neck and sometimes in the muscles in your head, chest, shoulders, and arms. You also may have a headache, feel dizzy, and have pain in your back.

You may not have any symptoms until the day after your injury. Or your symptoms may go away but then return a few days later.

You may have a more serious injury if you have:

  • Severe pain in your neck.
  • Pain down one or both arms.
  • Pain that comes back after being gone for a few days.
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands, arms, chest, or legs.
  • Weakness in your arms, hands, or legs.
  • Inability to move your head.

HealthWise. Whiplash.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cervical Sprain and Strain »

Cervical strain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems encountered by generalists and neuromusculoskeletal specialists in the clinic.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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