Causes of Whiplash: A Guide For Those Involved in Car Accidents

English: Skull human and cervical spine

Image via Wikipedia

We spent some time this week at one of those indoor amusement parks (December in Utah is quite cold after all) that has kiddie rides- you know the type: carousel, mini roller coasters, and spinny things that make grown ups green in the face. After watching some children get banged around on the roller coaster, it got us wanting to talk a little about the causes of whiplash. We turn to our ever faithful Wikipedia for help:

Causes of Whiplash:

The exact injury mechanism that causes whiplash injuries is unknown. A whiplash injury may be the result of impulsive stretching of the spine, mainly the ligament: anterior longitudinal ligament which is stretched or tears, as the head snaps forward and then back again causing a whiplash injury.

Here’s a specific paragraph about the types of whiplash injury that result from auto accidents:

A whiplash injury from an automobile accident is called a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury. Cadaver studies have shown that as an automobile occupant is hit from behind, the forces from the seat back compress the kyphosis of the thoracic spine, which provides an axial load on the lumbar spine and cervical spine. This forces the cervical spine to deform into an S-shape where the lower cervical spine is forced into a kyphosis while the upper cervical spine maintains its lordosis. As the injury progresses, the whole cervical spine is finally hyper-extended.

Is an car accident the only way to get whiplash? No. Read on:

Whiplash may be caused by any motion similar to a rear-end collision in a motor vehicle, such as may take place on a roller coaster or other rides at an amusement park, sports injuries such as skiing accidents, other modes of transportation such as airplane travel, or from being hit, kicked or shaken.

Ready to get a little technical? Then read the next paragraph 🙂

Whiplash associated disorders sometimes includes injury to the cerebrum. In a severe cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome, a brain injury known as a coup-contra-coup injury occurs. A coup-contra-coup injury occurs as the brain is accelerated into the cranium as the head and neck hyperextend, and is then accelerated into the other side as the head and neck rebound to hyper-flexion or neutral position.

Whiplash symptoms might not always have any pathological (injury) explanation. “Volunteer studies of experimental, low-velocity rear-end collisions have shown a percentage of subjects to report short-lived symptoms”, which can not be attributed to any pathogenic effect on the subjects neck.

As always, if you feel like you may be suffering from whiplash, be it from a rear-ended by another car or from a crazy kiddie roller coaster, give us a call at 801-748-0056 or drop by our Midvale, Utah location for some help.


6 thoughts on “Causes of Whiplash: A Guide For Those Involved in Car Accidents

  1. Pingback: Why Is It Painful To Turn My Head? « getbalancedhealth

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