Violent forces of compression with flexion/extension resulting in shearing of the vertebrae

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in a rear-end motor vehicle collision. This injury results in a very serious musculoskeletal pathology. One of the first things that typically happens during a motor vehicle accident is compression of the spine. While the spine is compressed there is shearing of segmental vertebrae, causing ligamentous damage. The spine will almost immediately tighten up the muscles around the vertebrae to stabilize the spine. When this happens, we lose the segmental curvature of our spine; this results in loss of space for the nerves to leave the spine. This will commonly refer pain from the neck to the upper back and/or down the arm. Other common symptoms would be numbness, tingling, or weakness from the disrupted nerve (in severe cases).

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