It is common for someone who has been involved in a rear-end car accident to complain of aches and pains in and around their neck. It is estimated that this happens to one or more passengers in up to 20% of car crashes. In many cases, the pain is caused by a “whiplash-like” movement of the neck as a result of the sudden impact of a collision.
What is the whiplash motion?
The whiplash motion starts at the time of impact, with the head being thrown backwards whilst the body goes forwards. This movement is known as hyperextension because the muscles and ligaments of the joint get excessively straightened, often suffering damage. The head may then get thrown forwards, typically if brakes have been applied harshly or the car has come to a sudden stop against another vehicle. This forwards movement is called hyperflexion and the neck joint over-bends, sometimes causing the chin to touch the chest. This can cause further damage to the neck. It takes a very short amount of time for a whiplash injury to occur in a car accident.
What are Whiplash-Associated Disorders?