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The Causes and Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash is a common type of injury that affects the structures in the neck. Most often the result of an auto accident, whiplash is, unfortunately, often ignored because the symptoms may not be immediately evident or they may not seem serious at first. However, the sooner you seek neck pain help in Phoenix after involvement in a car crash, the better the outcome will be. A chiropractor can help you understand the typical causes and symptoms of whiplash .

whiplash car injury

Typical Causes of Whiplash

Whiplash is strongly associated with motor vehicle accidents, particularly those that involve one car rear-ending another car that is stationary. For example, if you're waiting at an intersection, a driver behind you may be recklessly speeding and cannot stop in time to avoid striking your car. The impact from the rear of the car forces the head and neck backward, which overextends the lower bones in the neck and damages the structures around the spine, such as the ligaments, facet capsules, and muscles. After the head and neck are forced backward, they are then thrown abruptly forward into a hyperflexed position. This causes the upper bones and other structures in the neck to be overextended in an abnormal S-shape. Although anyone involved in a car crash may be susceptible to whiplash, women may be more likely to be diagnosed with it than men. It is thought that this is because a woman's neck is typically not as strong as a man's neck.

Potential Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash symptoms may arise directly after the car crash, or it may take hours or even days for them to develop. The most common symptoms of whiplash are neck pain and stiffness, particularly when trying to move or adjust the head. Other common symptoms include tight muscles in the neck, tenderness, shoulder pain and stiffness, arm pain, and jaw pain. A headache may begin at the base of the skull and spread upward. Some patients also report back pain, ringing in the ears, arm weakness, visual disturbances, fatigue, and dizziness. Sometimes, patients can develop chronic neck pain from whiplash. Receiving chiropractic care can reduce this risk.

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