Whiplash is a sprain to the cervical section of the spine. Whiplash usually happens in auto accidents, even in minor ones. Whiplash affects over 1,000,000 people in the United States every year, and between 25-40% of those people have severe symptoms.
When whiplash occurs, muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues in the neck and some in the head, tear. When the muscles tear at the jaw, it causes Temporal Mandibular Joint disfunction (TMJ).
Whiplash is also a very serious problem in some rides at the fair, such as the bumper cars. A sudden impact on one car by four cars is what could cause whiplash. One car would hit the main car in the front, the other in the back, and the other to on each side. Such impact causes the head to move about in all directions causing this whiplash.
Seat belts could also help cause whiplash. The seat belt is bendable; so it allows your head to go as far back as it could and then go up quickly with the seat belt putting pressure on the neck. The most commonly injured muscles are the sternocledomastoids, which is the big muscle at the front of the neck, and the longus colli, which is the muscle between the sternocledomastoids and the trachea, which is called the windpipe.
Common symptoms include headaches, stiffness, neck pain, mild dizziness, problems thinking or remembering, numbness and tingling, jaw pain, lower back pain, and hip pain. By using an auto headrest or a shoulder harness, you can help prevent whiplash.
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Whiplash may be treated with a neck brace, heat, massage, or pain medicine. Chronic whiplash syndrome is the presence of symptoms for longer than 6 months. It happens at the same places in the neck and head and has to be treated longer and with different kinds of medications. The most common type of accident that can cause whiplash is a rear impact. There is a stabilization response in the cervical spine that helps protect the neck from potential injury. Very rarely does it respond. Shortly after impact, the cervical spine undergoes what is called an “S-shaped” curve. The spine then has an S-shaped curve and not a C-shaped one.