Whiplash is a traumatic injury of the cervical spine. A rear-end collision is a common cause of whiplash. Sometimes the patient only feels pain hours or days after the accident. Whiplash is differentiated into four degrees of severity. Clear indications include headaches, dizziness and sometimes nausea.


Traffic accidents are the most common cause of whiplash. Usually these are rear-end collisions that cause the head and cervical spine to be abruptly and severely bent and then overextended. But whiplash of the cervical spine can also occur during sports and accidents in the course of recreational activities.


Usually the symptoms of whiplash occur only after a few hours. They vary widely between individuals. While the symptoms mentioned below occur together, they are also possible as single indicators. Affected individuals often experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, a feeling of stiffness and pain in the area of the neck that radiates to the head and shoulders. Vision and sleep disturbances are sometimes experienced. Neurological failures are rare.

Degrees of severity

Whiplash can be classified according to the degree of severity. It is rated on a scale of 0 to 4 by questioning the affected individual. Here 0 = no complaints, 1 = neck stiffness and headaches, 2 = neck stiffness, persistent muscle tension and restricted head mobility and 3 = neurological failures in addition. A severity of 4 means serious whiplash with severe muscle tension, fractured vertebra and sprains.


Whiplash is diagnosed and the degree of severity is determined by a doctor following a detailed examination, thorough medical history and the use of imaging methods.


Whiplash is usually treated conservatively by means of special physiotherapy for the lumbar spine, and with pain medication. An orthotic fitting (neck brace) is often used in the first few days.

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