Whiplash occurs when the neck is thrust one way and then jerked violently or suddenly the other way. Although whiplash can occur in sports, at work or from falling, road users in Georgia might not realize that traffic collisions are the primary cause. In a whiplash, the head rises up from the spine, creating a sprain or strain at the bottom of the skull. A sprain occurs when the ligaments in the neck become torn, while a strain occurs when the tendons and muscles of the neck are overstretched. The facet joints and capsules in the neck appear to be the most susceptible. Although rare, whiplash could dislocate or fracture vertebrae.
Stiffness and pain at the bottom of the skull, in the back of the neck or at the front of the neck are the most commonly experienced symptoms. However, the stiffness and pain might extend through the shoulders, arms, upper chest or upper back. Headaches are also common, occurring in more than 66 percent of whiplash patients. These and other symptoms usually do not arise for two to 48 hours following the onset of the injury.