The whiplash

The whiplash, or whiplash, is a cervical trauma that causes a sprain (more or less serious) vertebrae of the neck.

Often caused by a sudden change of speed (acceleration or deceleration), the whiplash is common in car accidents and tamping, even at low speed.

Most of the time, cervical lesions caused by whiplash repair themselves well. In case of violent accidents, however, this trauma can have very serious consequences on the nerves and the spinal cord.

The mechanisms of whiplash

The whiplash is caused by a violent movement of the head that tilts backwards and forwards, which causes hyperextension of the neck joints.

This sudden movement impacts the cervical vertebrae and can cause tendon or neck ligament damage, or even narrowing of a neck nerve between two vertebrae, or at worst vertebral bone lesions, or even repercussions on the spinal cord.

The severity of whiplash is proportional to the violence of the trauma.


The symptoms of whiplash vary according to the importance of the trauma.

Symptoms in case of mild trauma

1) The first symptoms:

In mild cases, the first symptom of whiplash is pain in the neck and cervical area (shoulders, back, lower skull), which usually appears a few hours after the trauma.

This pain is often accompanied by stiffness and limited movement of the neck. It may be that the pain radiates to the arm, sometimes to the fingers.

2) Within two or three days, other symptoms may appear:

  • headaches often located in one half of the skull,
  • nausea,
  • back pain or lower back pain.

These discomforts may be accompanied by dizziness, memory lapses and concentration problems.

These manifestations usually disappear within three months of the trauma.

Symptoms in case of severe trauma

In case of more severe trauma, the symptoms will be more important related to the complications caused by the trauma.

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To read :

> Cervicalgia: when to consult?
> The cervical disc herniation

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