Research has shown that more than 80% of individuals involved in a motor vehicle accident suffer a whiplash injury and more than 50% of those injured report ongoing or recurrent neck pain 1 year after the accident. A whiplash injury occurs when there’s a sudden, forceful snapping of the head backward then forward, or vice versa. They most commonly result from auto accidents but can also be seen with high contact sports or from a fall.
With whiplash injuries, the joints and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs) of the neck extend beyond their normal range of motion. This can cause muscular strains, ligamentous sprains, or tearing if severe enough. The body will then stiffen and tighten up to the protect the area from any further damage.
- Rear-end impacts of 5 mph or less have consistently shown to give rise to significant symptoms.
- Individuals with prior neck pain and headaches are 3x more likely to experience symptoms after a motor vehicle accident (MVA).
- Up to 90% of people who have neurological signs after an MVA may still have symptoms 1 year after.
- 31% report persistent low back pain 1 year after an MVA.
- 5 years after an MVA, whiplash patients were 2x more likely to report pain compared to non-whiplash patients.