Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by the sudden movement of the head backward, forward or sideways. It is the most common cause of neck pain.
Auto accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, though sports, falls and other injuries can also be responsible. In Alaska in 2000, there were more than 14,000 auto accidents. These accidents resulted in 6,200 injuries – and most of them were neck and whiplash related.
It doesn’t take a major auto accident to cause whiplash. Vehicles can usually withstand collisions of 10 mph without damage. However, whiplash can be caused in accidents of just 5 mph – or less.
Common whiplash symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
It’s important to note that whiplash symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months after an accident. This makes it extremely important to be thoroughly examined after even a minor accident.
If left untreated, whiplash can result in chronic neck pain and other serious conditions. For example, one study showed nearly 40 percent of whiplash victims still experienced pain seven years later.