Skip to Article Skip to Search About Us Skip to simple menu

Whiplash "Basics"

Whiplash "Basics"
Facebook Share Button

Whiplash is a non-medical term typically describing what happens to the head and neck when a person is struck from behind in a motor vehicle collision. Let’s look at some basic facts about whiplash:

  • Before cars, trains were the main source of whiplash and was called “railroad spine.”
  • Better terms for whiplash injuries include “cervical acceleration-deceleration” (CAD) which describes the mechanism of the injury, and/or the term “whiplash associated disorders” (WAD), which describes the residual injury symptoms.
  • Whiplash is one of the most common non-fatal injuries involved in car crashes.
  • There are over one million whiplash injuries per year due to car crashes alone.
  • An estimated 3.8 per 1,000 people per year sustain a whiplash injury.
  • In the United States alone, 6.2% of the population has “late whiplash syndrome” (symptoms that do not resolve after one year).
  • 1 in 5 cases (20%) remain symptomatic at one year post-injury of which only 11.5% returned to work and only 35.4% of that number returned to the same level of work after 20 years.
  • The majority of whiplash cases occur in the fourth decade of life, females>males.
  • Whiplash can occur from slips, falls, and brawls, as well as from horse-riding, cycling injuries, and contact sports.
  • Injury from whiplash can occur at speeds of 15 mph or less.
  • In the “classic” rear end collision, there are four phases of injury (time: 300msec)
    • 1.) Initial (0msec) – before the collision (the neck is stable)
    • 2.) Retraction (1-150msec) – “whiplash” starts where the head/neck stay in the original position but the trunk is moving forwards by the car seat. This is where the “S” shaped curve occurs (viewing the spine from the side).
    • 3.) Extension (150-200msec) – the whole neck bends backwards (hopefully stopped by a properly placed head rest).
    • 4.) Rebound (200-300msec) – the tight, stretched muscles in the front of the neck propels the head forward immediately after the extension phase.
  • We
    simply cannot voluntarily contract our neck muscles fast enough to
    avoid injury, as injury to the neck occurs within 500msec. and voluntary
    contraction or bracing takes 800msec or longer.

  • Injury is worse
    when the seat is reclined as the body can “ramp” up and over the seat
    and headrest. Also, a springy seat back increases the rebound effect.

  • Prompt
    treatment is better than waiting for a long time. Chiropractic spinal
    manipulation is a highly effective treatment option.

Thousands of Doctors of Chiropractic across the United States and Canada have taken "The ChiroTrust Pledge":“To the best of my ability, I agree to
provide my patients convenient, affordable,
and mainstream Chiropractic care.
I will not use unnecessary long-term
treatment plans and/or therapies.”

To locate a Doctor of Chiropractic who has taken The ChiroTrust Pledge, google "The ChiroTrust Pledge" and the name of a town in quotes.

(example: "ChiroTrust Pledge" "Olympia, WA")