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Whiplash / Auto Accidents


An injury to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head, backward, forward, or sideways, is commonly referred to as "whiplash". During such an injury, neck ligaments and muscles can be sprained or strained and vertebrae can be misaligned. While the term "whiplash" is most frequently used to describe auto accident injuries (in which a person is rear-ended, hit head-on, or hit from the side), whiplash can also frequently occur during sports accidents, falls, blows to the head, concussions, and other head/neck traumas. As a result of such traumas, an individual may also suffer from post-concussion syndrome.

Whiplash symptoms can include:

In certain cases, more severe neurological symptoms can manifest (sometimes occurring many years after the accident) such as tremor, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, seizures, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy, to name a few.69-77

How Upper Cervical Care Relates to Whiplash / Auto Accidents

Following the whiplash accident, symptoms can be triggered immediately or can take months or years to develop. The purpose of upper cervical chiropractic care is to reverse the trauma-induced upper neck injury; thereby reducing irritation to the nerves in the brain stem and spinal cord that can trigger pain and other symptoms. After an accident, an evaluation is necessary in each individual's case to assess whether an upper cervical injury is present and whether benefit from upper cervical care can be achieved.

Case Studies

View Case Studies related to Whiplash / Auto Accidents

Research Articles and Publications
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  9. Hamer AJ, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Whiplash injury and surgically treated cervical disc disease. Injury 1993 Sep; 24(8): 549-50.
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  19. Gimse R, Tjell C, Bjorgen IA. Disturbed eye movements after whiplash due to injuries to the posture control system. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 1996 Apr; 18(2): 178-86.
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  29. Nilsson N. The prevalence of cervicogenic headache in a random population sample of 20-59 year olds. Spine 1995 Sep 1; 20(17): 1884-8.
  30. Vernon H, Steiman I, Hagino C. Cervicogenic dysfunction in muscle contraction headache and migraine: a descriptive study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1993 Jul-Aug; 16(6): 428-31.
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  32. Fredriksen TA, Hovdal H, Sjaastad O. Cervicogenic headache: clinical manifestation. Cephalalgia 1987 Jun; 7(2): 147-60.
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  35. Heikkila HV, Wenngren BI. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility, active range of cervical motion, and oculomotor function in patients with whiplash injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1998 Sep; 79(9): 1089-94.
  36. Gimse R, Tjell C, Bjorgen IA. Disturbed eye movements after whiplash due to injuries to the posture control system. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 1996 Apr; 18(2): 178-86.
  37. Burke JP, Orton HP, West J. Whiplash and its effect on the visual system. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 1992; 230(4): 335-9.
  38. Hildingsson C, Wenngren BI, Bring G. Oculomotor problems after cervical spine injury. Acta Orthop Scand 1989 Oct; 60(5): 513-6.
  39. Kessels RP, Keyser A, Verhagen WI. The whiplash syndrome: a psychophysiological and neuropsychological study towards attention. Acta Neurol Scand 1998 Mar; 97(3): 188-93.
  40. Parker RS, Rosenblum A. IQ loss and emotional dysfunctions after mild head injury incurred in a motor vehicle accident. J Clin Psychol 1996 Jan; 52(1): 32-43.
  41. Radanov BP, Hirlinger I, Di Stefano G. Attentional processing in cervical spine syndromes. Acta Neurol Scand 1992 May; 85(5): 358-62.
  42. Radanov BP, Dvorak J, Valach L. Cognitive deficits in patients after soft tissue injury of the cervical spine. Spine 1992 Feb; 17(2): 127-31.
  43. Kischka U, Ettlin T, Heim S. Cerebral symptoms following whiplash injury. Eur Neurol 1991; 31(3): 136-40.
  44. Smed A. Cognitive function and distress after common whiplash injury. Acta Neurol Scand 1997 Feb; 95(2): 73-80.
  45. Barrett K, Buxton N, Redmond AD. A comparison of symptoms experienced following minor head injury and acute neck strain (whiplash injury). J Accid Emerg Med 1995 Sep; 12(3): 173-6.
  46. Henry GK, Gross HS, Herndon CA. Nonimpact brain injury: neuropsychological and behavioral correlates with consideration of physiological findings. Appl Neuropsychol 2000; 7(2): 65-75.
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  48. Gimse R, Bjorgen IA, Tjell C. Reduced cognitive functions in a group of whiplash patients with demonstrated disturbances in the posture control system. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 1997 Dec; 19(6): 838-49
  49. Otte A, Ettlin TM, Fierz L. Cerebral findings following cervical spine distortion caused by acceleration mechanism (whiplash injury). Schweiz Rundsch med Prax 1996 Sep 3; 85(36): 1087-90
  50. Cote P, Cassidy JD, Carroll L. Is a lifetime history of neck injury in a traffic collision associated with prevalent neck pain, headache and depressive symptomatology? Accid Anal Prev 2000 Mar; 32(2): 151-9.
  51. Soderlund A, Lindberg P. Long-term functional and psychological problems in whiplash associated disorders. Int J Rehabil Res 1999 Jun; 22(2): 77-84.
  52. Taylor AE, Cox CA, Mailis A. Persistent neuropsychological deficits following whiplash: evidence for chronic mild traumatic brain injury? Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1996 Jun; 77(6): 529-35.
  53. Barrett K, Buxton N, Redmond AD. A comparison of symptoms experienced following minor head injury and acute neck strain (whiplash injury). J Accid Emerg Med 1995 Sep; 12(3): 173-6.
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  55. Di Stefano G, Radanov BP. Neuropsychological and psychosocial findings in follow-up of cervical vertebrae dislocations: a prospective clinical study. Z Unfallchir Versicherungsmed 1993; 86(2): 97-108.
  56. Ettlin TM, Kischka U, Reichmann S. Cerebral symptoms after whiplash injury of the neck: a prospective clinical and neuropsychological study of whiplash injury. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1992 Oct; 55(10): 943-8.
  57. Nemoto M, Akino M, Abe H. Atlantoaxial dislocation with ventilatory insufficiency-report of two cases. No To Shinkei 1996 Feb; 48(2): 155-60.
  58. Guilleminault C, Yuen KM, Gulevich MG. Hypersomnia after head-neck trauma: a medicolegal dilemma. Neurology 2000 Feb 8; 54(3): 653-9.
  59. Knibestol M, Hildingsson C, Toolanen G. Trigeminal sensory impairment after soft-tissue injury of the cervical spine. A quantitative evaluation of cutaneous thresholds for vibration and temperature. Acta Neurol Scand 1990 Oct; 82(4): 271-6.
  60. McGlone R, Morton RJ, Sloan JP. Trigeminal pain due to whiplash injury. Injury 1988 Sep; 19(5): 366.
  61. Friedman MH, Weisberg J. The craniocervical connection: a retrospective analysis of 300 whiplash patients with cervical and temporomandibular disorders. Cranio 2000 Jul; 18(3): 163-7.
  62. O'Shauuughnessy T. Craniomandibular/temporomandibular/cervical implications of a forced hyper-extension/hyper-flexion episode (ie, whiplash). Funct Orthod 1994 Mar-Apr; 11(2): 5-10,12.
  63. McKay DC, Christensen LV. Whiplash injuries of the temporomandibular joint in motor vehicle accidents: speculation and facts. J Oral Rehabil 1998 Oct; 25(10): 731-46.
  64. Kolbinson DA, Epstein JB, Burgess JA. Temporomandibular disorders, headaches, and neck pain after motor vehicle accidents: a pilot investigation of persistence and litigation effects. J Prosthet Dent 1997 Jan; 77(1): 46-53.
  65. Garcia R Jr, Arrington JA. The relationship between cervical whiplash and temporomandibular joint injuries: an MRI study. Cranio 1996 Jul; 14(3): 233-9.
  66. Kronn E. The incidence of TMJ dysfunction in patients who have suffered a cervical whiplash injury following a traffic accident. J Orofac Pain 1993 Spring; 7(2): 209-13.
  67. Tarsy D. Comparison of acute- and delayed-onset posttraumatic cervical dystonia. Mov Disord 1998 May; 13(3): 481-5.
  68. Kaeser HE, Ettlin T. Little known sequelae of sprains of the cervical spine. Schweiz Rundsch Med prax 1999 Dec 2; 88(49):2021-4.
  69. Clear D, Chadwick DW. Seizures provoked by blows to the head. Epilepsia 2000 Feb; 41(2): 243-4.
  70. Schutze M, Dauch WA, Guttinger M. Risk factors for posttraumatic fits and epilepsy. Zentralbl Neurochir 1999; 60(4): 163-7.
  71. Chadwick D. Seizures and epilepsy after traumatic brain injury. Lancet 2000 Jan 29; 355(9201): 334-6.
  72. Buskila D, Neumann L. Musculoskeletal injury as a trigger for fibromyalgia/posttraumatic fibromyalgia. Curr Rheumatol Rep 2000 Apr; 2(2): 104-8.
  73. Ellis SJ. Tremor and other movement disorders after whiplash type injuries. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1997 Jul; 63(1): 110-2 .
  74. Christie B. Multiple sclerosis linked with trauma in court case. BMJ 1996 Nov 16; 313(7067): 1228.
  75. Sehnert KW, Croft AC. Basal metabolic temperature vs. laboratory assessment in posttraumatic hypothyroidism. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996 Jan; 19(1): 6-12.
  76. Riggs JE, Schochet SS Jr. Spastic quadriparesis, dysarthria, and dysphagia following cervical hyperextension: a traumatic pontomedullary syndrome.
  77. Buhring M. Reflex dystrophy following so-called whiplash injury of the cervical spine. Z Orthop Ihre Grenzgeb 1984 May-Jun; 122(3): 281-6.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.