Whiplash injury

An injury to the soft tissues, ligaments, and spinal joints of the neck caused by a forcible and violent bending of the neck backwards (hyperextension) and then forwards (flexion), or vice versa. Such injury most commonly results from sudden acceleration or deceleration, as occurs in a car collision. Damage to the spine usually involves minor sprain of a neck ligament, or subluxation (partial dislocation) of a cervical joint. Occasionally, a ligament may rupture or a cervical vertebra may fracture (see spinal injury). Characteristically, pain and stiffness in the neck are much worse 24 hours after the injury. Treatment may include immobilization in an orthopaedic collar, analgesic drugs, muscle-relaxant drugs, and physiotherapy. It may take a few weeks before full pain-free movement is possible.


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