Injuries to the neck caused by the sudden movement of the head backward, forward, or sideways is commonly referred to as “whiplash”.

Whiplash is most commonly received from riding in a car that is struck from behind or that collides with another object. They can also occur during sporting events, slips and falls. When the head is suddenly jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits, the muscles and ligaments supporting the head and spine can be stretched or torn. The discs between spinal vertebrae can bulge, tear or rupture. Vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position, reducing range of motion.

In a human crash test study where the vehicle sustained an impact of approximately 8 mph, the researchers found some interesting facts.

  • The vehicle that was hit experienced acceleration of approximately 2g (two times the force of gravity).

  • The occupant's torso experienced acceleration of more than 1 ½ times that of the vehicle (approximately 3g).

  • The occupant's head experienced acceleration of more than 2 ½ times that of the vehicle (approximately 5g).

As you can see, occupant's experience much higher forces than the vehicle that they are riding in, and are therefore are at much higher risk of injury/damage than their vehicle. Patients with whiplash commonly have any of the following symptoms, which is only a partial list.

  • headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Blurred vision

  • Pain in the shoulders, arms and hands

  • Reduced ability to turn and bend

  • Low back problems

  • Ringing in ears

  • Anxiety

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Jaw/Face pain

As the body attempts to adapt, symptoms may not appear until weeks or even months. More than 3 million people in America suffer from a whiplash injury every year. 50% will suffer from chronic pain, 10% will become permanently disabled.

Several of the myths associated with whiplash injuries are:

  • If you're hit from behind at low speed, you won't be injured

  • The more damage to your vehicle, the more severe your injuries

  • If you're injured, the injuries will completely heal within 1.5 to 3 months.

The chiropractic approach to these types of injuries is to use specific chiropractic adjustments to help normalize spinal function. After a thorough case history and examination, the doctor will recommend a series of visits to help restore proper motion and position of spinal bones. If caught early enough, inflammation can be reduced and scar tissue can often be minimized.

Following the acute phase of care, Rehabilitation Exercises will be performed to strengthen and stabilize the injured area.

Consult a Doctor of Chiropractic before depending upon addictive pain medication, enduring constant whiplash-related headaches or submitting to surgery.


Foreman SM, Croft AC. Whiplash injuries. the cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2002.




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