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What is whiplash?

Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear-end car collisions in which the heads of those in the front car are suddenly snapped back and forth by the impact. It is more accurately called cervical acceleration/deceleration (CAD) trauma or syndrome, which describes the rapid movements that can injure the vertebrae of the neck and the muscles and ligaments that support them.

Who suffers from whiplash?

Anyone can be subjected to whiplash, even in a low-force car crash at speeds as low as 5mph. But injuries associated with whiplash can also result from other mishaps in which the head is pushed or jerked beyond its normal range of motion. Whiplash most commonly causes serious and lingering neck pain, but there may also be back pain, headaches and dizziness. Inasmuch as bruising of the brain can sometimes occur in auto accidents and similarly severe causes of whiplash, some victims have experienced blurred vision, ringing in the ears, nausea and numbness.

What can chiropractic do?

The sudden accident that caused the whiplash in the first place may fade into memory, but the physical and psychological damage of whiplash can become chronic, eroding a victim's quality of life. Chiropractic techniques and chiropractors' skills are particularly well-suited to relieving the neck pain and other debilitating effects of whiplash because they can

• restore movement lost after the accident,

• overcome muscle weakness and enhance muscle tone,

• speed recovery, and

• diminish chronic symptoms that can persist or recur over many years.

Repeated and effective chiropractic adjustments have proved successful for many thousands of patients. Chiropractic can, in many cases, significantly reduce patients' distress and allow them to return to their normal activities rather than seeing themselves as invalids--as so many whiplash victims do long after their accident.

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More Articles on Whiplash


• Foreman, SM, Croft AC. Whiplash injuries: The cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome, 2nd ed., Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1995.
• Borchgrevink GE, Kaasa A, McDonagh D, et al. Acute treatment of whiplash neck sprain injuries: A randomized trial of treatment during the first 14 days after a car accident. Spine, 1998; vol. 23, no. 1, pp25-31.
• Squires B, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Soft-tissue injuries of the cervical spine: A 15-year follow-up. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (British Edition), 1996; vol. 70B, pp955-57.
• Lord SM, Barnsley L, Wallis BJ, Bogduk, N.. Chronic cervical zygapophysial joint pain after whiplash. Spine, 1996; vol. 21, no. 15, pp1737-45.
• Spitzer WO, Skovron, ML, Salmi LR, et al. Redefining "whiplash" and its management. Scientific Monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders, Spine, 1995; vol. 20, no. 8S, pp1S-72S.


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