Whiplash Causes

Whiplash injury (acceleration flexion-extension neck injury or soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury) is a very common neck injury.

A whiplash injury is the result of impulsive stretching or tearing of spinal ligaments, as the head snaps forward and then back again causing a whiplash injury.


Primary Causes

The number one cause is being rammed from behind in a car. About one in five people involved in such a collision will end up with a problem of the neck and surrounding area. The sudden impact pushes your car forwards. After a brief delay, your body follows. Then, while your head tilts slightly down towards the steering wheel, your neck extends forwards. When you brake hard, the car stops suddenly, throwing your extending head and neck back until they hit the headrest resulting in the classic whiplash injury.

Other causes

As well as motor vehicle accidents, other causes include:

  • a sudden blow to the head (e.g. during contact sports such as boxing or rugby),
  • being hit on the head by a heavy object, or
  • a slip or fall where the head is jolted backwards.
  • Excessive movement from amusement park rides.

Whiplash in children can sometimes be a sign of abuse. If a child is shaken violently, it can cause the head to jolt causing a whiplash injury (Shaken Baby Syndrome)


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