Whiplash: What Is It?
The term whiplash is a common language term that describes the sudden and
dysfunctional movements induced by motor vehicle collisions. Whiplash is
the direct cause of head, neck and lower spine injuries sustained during
such an unfortunate event.
Whiplash is *always* associated with dysfunctional movements of the spine
resulting over time in a disabling pathological degenerative sequela or
syndrome of spinal weakness, stiffness and abnormal nerve function. A
common type of motor vehicle accident resulting in whiplash is a rear-end
collision. Although rear-end collisions comprise about 25% of all crashes,
they account for up to 37% of MVA injuries.
Whiplash specifically refers to extension-flexion injury, disrupting
numerous elements of the spinal system extending from the base of the skull
to the base of the lower back. The soft tissue structures of these areas
are subjected to stress and stretch, compression and tear which damages the
long and short spinal muscles, associated ligaments, successive spinal
joints and capsular structures. The intervertebral disc and zygopophyseal
[synovial] joints, as well as the synovial capsule between the facet joints
may also be structurally compromised.
Untreated whiplash injury *always* produce varying degrees of instability
in the spine, leaving the car accident victim with neck and back pain that
prove to be chronic for the rest of their lives. The incidence of MVA
injuries in the USA has been estimated to be 3,000,000 per year or 1,172
per 100,000: (*Croft AC, Whiplash and Brain Traumatology. Spine Research
Institute of San Diego, 2008:15.*) . Whiplash is a troublesome problem that
profoundly impacts the public health of so many. It sadly produces a
cost-added burden on society of an enormous sum of money annually,
resulting from millions of citizens suffering from the associated
afflictions of chronic spinal pain, weakness and loss of enjoyment in
living and working.