Whiplash: What you need to know
Whiplash refers to a series of neck injuries caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck. Whiplash, or whiplash-associated disorder (WAD), is often the result of being struck from behind, for example, by a fast moving vehicle in an automobile accident. When a blow is struck, the individual’s body is immediately pushed forward while the head remains behind for an instant. This forces the head to rock up and back, stretching and sometimes tearing some muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The muscles automatically contract and bring the head forward, sometimes too far, and the head may rock forward violently, further stretching or tearing muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Most people associate whiplash with a vehicle being hit from behind by another vehicle – the driver in front gets whiplash. Whiplash injury may also be sustained in other ways, including: Put simply, the ligaments and tendons in the neck are sprained during a whiplash injury because they have been overstretched.