Dr. Peter Andree
703 Woodside Rd. #3
Redwood City, CA 94061
(650) 367-1534

Whiplash and neck pain

The term “whiplash” has been coined to describe the way your neck can be hurt in an auto accident. If you are hit from behind, first your body is moved forward out from under your head, forcing your head to tip backwards. As your neck extension reaches it’s maximum, the car starts to slow, and your head is thrown violently forwards. This back and forth motion is like cracking a whip, and gave the injury it’s name.

Whiplash can be a bit confusing, since so many systems can be involved. The most common symptoms are neck pain and headache, from small tears in the ligaments and other structures supporting the neck. Some people also have dizziness, usually from changes in blood supply from the neck injury, but also sometimes due to the brain slamming against the inside of the skull. About half of people have low back pain as well. If you wear seatbelts, the low back is not bent the way the neck is, but the force of collision first compresses, and then stretches the low back, injuring it as well. Jaw joint injuries are fairly common, as the weight of the jaw jams it into the skull. Shoulders can be injured by the shoulder harness, and arms by contact with the steering wheel. These injuries can be long lasting. With medical treatment, about 20% of people still have a lot of symptoms two years after the injury. It is important to find a chiropractor who understands all of the injury, and will do everything possible to help your body heal.