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Home > Spine Surgery > Spine Conditions > Whiplash


What is Whiplash
Anatomy of Whiplash
Causes of Whiplash
Symptoms of Whiplash
Diagnosis of Whiplash
Treatments for Whiplash
Non Surgical Treatment of Whiplash
Surgical Treatments for Whiplash

What Is Whiplash

When there is an injury to muscles, ligaments and soft tissue in the neck is termed as whiplash. Whiplash is not a medical term but it is still the most commonly used term for such a neck injury.

Whiplash is also known as neck sprain or cervical sprain because it is a direct result of the neck being forced out of its normal range of motion.

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Anatomy of Whiplash

Even the low speed collision can result in dramatic forces on the human neck. When the person met with an accident his head is thrown in the forward direction. Due to sudden forward motion of the head, normal range of neck movement is disturbed. If the impact is great, or vehicular headrests are not properly positioned, the head can snap back from the hyperflexion and suffer from hyperextension, as well. This means the backwards motion of the head is beyond the normal and comfortable rearward movement range of the neck.

This traumatic movement can cause several different types of damage in the neck and upper back : -

  • The most common cause of whiplash pain is soft tissue damage. In whiplash injury the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back can be stretched or torn.
  • Disc injury can occur due to sudden force of the impact.
  • Vertebral damage can occur when the actual bones or spinal facet joints are injuried.Injury would come from a large force generated from a substantial impact which results in the fracture of bone or simply moved from its normal position in the spine.
  • Nerve impingement can occur with disc, muscle, or bone injuries. A spinal nerve root can be compressed from the traumatic change to the normal spinal anatomy.

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Causes of Whiplash

When the soft tissue in the spine is stretched and strained with sudden, violent, backward jerk of the head or neck. Most whiplash injuries are the result of a collision that includes sudden acceleration or deceleration.

A common cause of whiplash includes : -

  1. Motor vehicle accidents
  2. Sports injury
  3. Injury can occur in other strenuous physical activities physical activities such as diving.
  4. An injury most commonly occurs in car crashes.

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Symptoms of Whiplash

Symptoms may occur immediately after an accident or they may not develop for hours, days or weeks after an injury.
  • requent headaches and dizziness.
  • Pain and stiffness in neck, jaw, shoulders and arms.
  • Limited mobility of neck and shoulders.
  • Back pain
  • Loss of feeling in arm and hand
  • Nausea and vomiting

Other less common symptoms include vision problems and feeling of depression.

Diagnosis of Whiplash

Diagnosis of whiplash is based on background of injury, patient's symptoms and medical history.Whiplash is usually diagnosed on the basis of physical examination.

Usually whiplash cannot be seen on an X-ray, CT scan and MRI scan until the injury is severe. An X-ray is taken if there is suspicion of a fracture or dislocation of the cervical spine.

Treatment of Whiplash

Non Surgical Treatment of Whiplash

If there is no dislocation or fracture the patient should do exercises and pursue the normal activities as soon as possible. For most of the people injury will simply pass after a short period. Medicines like Paracetamol and NSAIDs (non steroidal inflammatory drugs) can be given for short period of time when there is headache and neck pain.

Ice and heat are good treatments for common muscular injuries. Ice is recommended for first 48hours, followed by wet heat. The ice will reduce swelling and heat will increase circulation to the injury and speed up healing process

Surgical Treatment of Whiplash

If the patients intervertebral disc is ruptures and because of this there is persistent arm pain, numbness or weakness. In this case, disc removal is necessary. The surgeon removes all or part of the damaged disc in a process called discectomy. After the discectomy doctor may need to permanently stabilize the area, this can happen with spinal fusion that help to form two or more vertebrae together for permanently.

Surgery is also required if injury causes a narrowing of spinal canal in your neck. If there is narrowing of the space where the nerve exists the spinal canal, a cervical forminotomy may be performed. The formina is removed to increase the size of nerve pathway in forminotomy.

The list of of world class Spine hospitals in India is as follows : -

Apollo Hospital Chennai Apollo Hospital, Chennai, India
Apollo Hospitals Delhi Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, India
Apollo Hospitals Bangalore Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore, India
Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, India
Wockhardt Hospital Bangalore India Wockhardt Hospital, Bangalore India
Fortis Hospital, Delhi, India Fortis Hospital, Delhi, India
Fortis Hospital Mohali, India Fortis Hospital, Mohali, India
Sparsh Hospital, Bangalore, India Sparsh Hospital, Bangalore, India
Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon ( Delhi ) , India Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon ( Delhi ) , India
Max Super Specialty hospital,  Delhi, India Max Super Specialty hospital, Delhi, India
BGS Global Hospital Bangalore, India BGS Global Hospital, Bangalore, India
BGS Global Hospital Chennai, India BGS Global Hospital, Chennai, India
BGS Global Hospital Hyderabad, India BGS Global Hospital, Hyderabad, India

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