Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when your head is suddenly and violently jerked back and forth, similar to the cracking of a whip.
This can cause damage to the soft tissues in your neck, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Whiplash can cause a range of symptoms and lead to long-term complications if left untreated.
What causes whiplash?
Whiplash is caused by the sudden and violent back and forth movement of your head, this can occur due to a number of reasons such as:
Car accidents: the most common cause of whiplash. It usually occurs due to rear-end collisions.
Sports injuries: high contact sports such as rugby, wrestling, or football can involve sudden and rapid tackles which may cause whiplash.
Physical assaults: being punched or shaken can result in whiplash, common seen in shaken baby syndrome.
Falls: although rare, falls can also sometimes cause whiplash.
The severity of whiplash can vary widely, depending on the force of the impact and your health status. Some individuals can recover from whiplash within a few days or weeks with enough rest, physiotherapy, and pain management, while others may experience symptoms that last for several months or even years.
Some symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately after the injury and may take several days or weeks to develop.
If you notice any of the symptoms, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.
Whiplash can be painful. The damage to the soft tissues in your neck can result in symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, and headaches.
Who is at risk of whiplash in Singapore?
Anyone can potentially suffer from whiplash, especially if they experience a sudden and/or forceful movement of the head and neck.
However, there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing whiplash, these are:
Age: older adults may be more susceptible to whiplash due to the natural degeneration of the spine and neck muscles over time.
Gender: women may be at a higher risk of whiplash due to differences in neck muscle strength and anatomy.
Previous neck injuries: you may be more vulnerable to whiplash if you have had a neck injury in the past.
Certain occupations: individuals who work in jobs that require driving, have an increased risk of whiplash due to the potential of car accidents.
Participating in sports: individuals who participate in contact or impact sports, have an increased risk of whiplash.
How is whiplash diagnosed?
Whiplash is diagnosed using a variety of tests and examinations such as:
Physical examination: your orthopaedist will perform a physical examination to assess your symptoms and determine if further testing or treatment is required. During the physical examination, your healthcare provider will typically ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, and the circumstances surrounding the injury.