Whiplash - Experience

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What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a relatively common injury that occurs to a person's neck following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes unrestrained, rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck, most commonly from motor vehicle accidents. The term "whiplash" was first used in 1928. The term "railway spine" was used to describe a similar condition that was common in persons involved in train accidents prior to 1928. The term "whiplash injury" describes damage to both the bone structures and soft tissues, while "whiplash associated disorders" describes a more severe and chronic condition.

Fortunately, whiplash is typically not a life threatening injury, but it can lead to a prolonged period of partial disability. There are significant economic expenses related to whiplash that can reach 30 billion dollars a year in the United States, including:

  • medical care,
  • disability,
  • sick leave,
  • lost productivity, and
  • litigation.

While most people involved in minor motor vehicle accidents recover quickly without any chronic symptoms, some continue to experience symptoms for years after the injury. This wide variation in symptoms after relatively minor injuries has led some to suggest that, in many cases, whiplash is not so much a real physiologic injury, but that symptoms are more created as a result of potential economic gain. Many clinical studies have investigated this issue. Unfortunately, while there will always be people willing to attempt to mislead the system for personal gain, whiplash is a real condition with real symptoms.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Raleigh, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 21

I was in an accident that involved me hitting a flatbed trailer head on. He didn't have lights on it and I never saw it. Since then I experienced headaches, my right ear sometimes feels like it is draining and a warm sensation. In my right jaw though the pain never goes away. It hurts to chew on that side, to yawn, and even when I have to rinse my mouth. It is really bad in the morning. This has been since about Dec 13th, two days after the accident.

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Comment from: blade, 65-74 (Patient) Published: January 21

I had a cycling accident on New Year's Eve when a pedal on my cycle snapped off, threw me off balance and onto the road. Initially I just felt embarrassed and sore. Fortunately I always wear a helmet which I reckon saved me from serious head injury. The day after the incident I was feeling very sore and stiff so went to the emergency room (ER) for a checkup. Nothing broken or badly bruised and I was released without a follow up. Over two weeks have passed and I am still suffering from pains in my neck, back and shoulders. A visit to my general physician resulted in a diagnosis of whiplash and symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, numbness and disorientation are symptomatic with that type of injury. I am exercising 4 times a day as instructed by ER and most of my shoulder and neck pain have eased. Sleeping is a problem as I am awoken at 3 am each morning with headaches and have to take 2 co-codamol to ease the pain. At present I am taking 6 of these tablets per day which takes the edge off the pain but the dizzy spells and headaches remain. Hope it will pass over before too long. I have been forwarded to physiotherapy by my doctor.

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