If you or someone that you know has ever been in a car accident, you’re no stranger to whiplash. Basically, it refers to soft tissue damage of the muscle(s) in the neck caused by a sudden jolt. In many cases, whiplash is caused by being struck from behind.
Women are more susceptible to whiplash injuries than men; experts believe it is because women's neck muscles are usually not as strong as men's.
Typically what happens is that the body is pushed or accelerated forward and, for that instant, the head stays stationary. In a typical case, the victim's body is initially pushed or accelerated forward while the head remains behind for an instant, making the head rock up and back. This rapid jolt causes stretching and/or tearing of some muscles, tendons and ligaments. As a reflex motion, the muscles react to bring the head forward and when this is overdone, the head may jerk forward causing further stretching and tearing.
Tendons are tissues by which muscles attach to bone; they are flexible, fibrous and tough. According to www.medicalnewstoday.com, tendons are like ligaments because they are tough flexible cords. Ligaments go from bone-to-bone while tendons go from muscle-to-bone. Although tendons and ligaments are tough, they are known as soft tissue because tey are often compared to bones and cartilage.
We often associate whiplash as a result of being hit behind, but the impact can come from any direction. The head may move in any direction thereby causing injury. It is important to keep in mind that whiplash injury is not isolated to impact from vehicles. A blow to the head during sports like football, karate or boxing could also result in whiplash. In fact, falling off a horse or bicycle could also result in this soft tissue damage. In any of these injuries, the neck has not been broken but the ligament has been overstretched.
Complete healing time from whiplash may take several months. The injury victim may experience stiffness, pain, headaches, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, and/or temporary loss of movement in the neck. The website notes that a whiplash injury typically takes from 12 to 24 hours after the accident or blow to develop.