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Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck from a sudden jerking or "whipping" of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion.
See also: Neck pain
When a vehicle stops suddenly in a crash or is hit from behind, the seat belt will keep a person's body from being thrown forward. But the head may snap forward, then backward, causing a whiplash injury.
In addition to car accidents, whiplash can be caused by roller coasters and other amusement park rides, sports injuries, or being punched or shaken. (Whiplash is one of the hallmarks of shaken baby syndrome.)
Hudgins TH, Shahban L, Alleva JT. Cervial sprain or strain. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 5.
Ronthal M. Arm and neck pain. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:chap 32.
Verhagen AP, Scholten-Peeters GG, van Wingaarden S, de Bie R, Bierma-Zeinstra SMA. Conservative treatments for whiplash. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD003338.
Devereaux M. Neck Pain. Med Clin North Am. 2009;93:273-284.
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