“You are in a car at the traffic lights. Without warning, another car strikes your car from behind. You attend your GP and an x-ray of your neck was taken. The report shows no damage but you experience pain around your neck. ”
You may be suffering from a whiplash injury.
Whiplash injury (also called neck strain or soft tissue cervical injury) results from acceleration-deceleration forces on the neck. Such injuries are typical in motor vehicle accidents resulting from rear-end or side impact collisions.
These forces may result in painful injuries to the muscles, ligaments and joints in the neck, and other spinal areas. The most common symptom after a whiplash injury is neck pain or stiffness. This can occur immediately after the injury or even after a few days.
The range of symptoms resulting from whiplash is called Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) and severity can vary from no symptoms (including no pain or discomfort and no physical sign of injury) to severe (including pain, fracture and/or dislocation of the neck).
Other symptoms, depending on the severity, may include headaches, pain in the shoulder and arms, dizziness, pins and needles or numbness, irritability and/or weakness in the neck, visual and auditory symptoms, dysphagia, concentration difficulties. It may also cause chronic neck pain.
X-rays may be taken of the neck area; however, they do not reveal injuries to the soft tissues of the neck and obviously cannot measure levels of pain (which is generally subjective in nature). X-rays are usually taken to rule out injuries such as bone fractures or dislocations. In addition, CT scans are reserved for those with bone injury and MRI scans occasionally show severe soft tissue injury.