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Whiplash, unpredictable damage

  1. A whiplash injury is a very unpleasant consequence of a fast, violent swing of the head caused by, among other things, car collisions, sports accidents and rides in fairground rides. The complaints picture is impressive and varies from pains in the neck and the back of the head to dizziness, tingling and loss of concentration. Investigations usually show no abnormalities and the patient who sometimes still has problems after years feels rightly misunderstood.

Sudden strain

  1. Whiplash is a sudden strain of the neck caused by the head being moved suddenly and with great force forwards, backwards or to the side. It is an umbrella term for all kinds of injuries that arise as a result, damage to cervical vertebrae, intervertebral discs, nerves, ligaments and muscle tissue. You could also call it a neck sprain or neck bruise. Doctors also call it an acceleration-deceleration trauma. The name whiplash, actually the literal translation, also occurs but indicates that it only concerns muscles, and that does not have to be the case. In some cases, areas in the brain stem, spinal cord and cranial nerves can also be damaged, so a mild brain injury is not excluded.

Acceleration and deceleration

  1. The whiplash syndrome is a condition that has been recognized especially in the last century, as conditions that may lead to whiplash have increased. Most often it is associated with a car accident (rear-end collision) in which someone is hit from behind, initially slapping the occupant's head back and then when the car has come to a stop, jerking forward hit. It also occurs in side and frontal collisions and collisions. Of course, not only cars are responsible for this. The injury can also occur in a motorcycle accident or during sports, such as a dive in a swimming pool, skiing, karting, cycling, football (header!), Bungee jumping and horse riding, but also by crimes and industrial accidents such as a falling object to the head or simply fall down the stairs. It can also happen to you from a ride on a fairground attraction! What is characteristic is that there is first acceleration and then an abrupt deceleration, so that a swinging movement of the head in relation to the trunk occurs. The neck is exposed to G-forces and it is not built for that. It happens to fifteen thousand people every year.


  1. The normal G force around us is 1 G. Rapidly changing G forces (acceleration of gravity force) are clearly noticeable to humans, for example in a car in a bend, in an elevator and when taking off in an airplane. Sensations are aroused by these forces on a roller coaster. When firing upwards, the total G-forces increase and this causes you to be pressed into the chair. This is called positive G force. When accelerating downwards, for example in a rapid fall, a decreasing G-force is created, which causes you to be lifted slightly out of your seat and gives you a floating feeling (uplift). These are G forces that are lower than +1 G. Maximum allowable negative G force is -3. If the force is stronger, you can become unconscious. With the positive G forces the limit is + 5 G and this is the maximum that a person may be exposed to. 5 G means that the total force on a body is five times the force of ordinary gravity and this feels like you are "carrying" four times your own weight. In addition, the force must also act vertically on the body and not sideways. A person cannot tolerate much of lateral forces. Lateral G forces should therefore not exceed 1.5. If they do, you will be shaken up and the chance of a whiplash is very high.

Complaints related to whiplash injury:

  1. Neck pain Pain in the back of your head Headache Pain in shoulders, arms and back Neck stiffness Facial pain Loss of strength, tingling and tingling in the arms, hands and / or neck Dizziness, balance problems Concentration and memory complaints Nausea, vomiting Personality changes Sleep disturbances Ringing in the ears Visual disturbances Hypersensitivity to sound and light

Chronic complaints with whiplash

  1. Complaints do not have to arise immediately after the accident, but can just as well become noticeable hours or days later. Within six months, seventy percent of the victims are free of complaints, but chronic complaints develop in the remainder that may or may not significantly limit daily life. Ten percent even suffer from severe pain complaints. Factors that increase the chance of long-term complaints are the impact of the accident, after all, the harder the blow, the greater the chance that the complaints will become long-term. Another factor is whether you saw the accident coming because the muscles are first automatically contracted, but very other factors can also play a role, such as physical condition, age and physique. A small percentage still has complaints after a year.

Pain relief and neck collar

  1. Examination is usually unsuccessful, although X-ray is sometimes required to rule out larger lesions. Unfortunately, swelling and bleeding are not visible on X-rays. A neurological examination is also performed for neurological complaints. The general treatment for whiplash consists of pain relief and possibly a collar that stabilizes the neck. It is best to start this treatment right away, although wearing such a collar has not been proven to be effective and its use is therefore quite controversial. In any case, it is advisable to take some rest in the first weeks, in order to gradually become more active again. It is better not to wear the neck collar all day long and no longer than a few weeks. If after three weeks the complaints are still just as bad, a therapist is usually called in and if that does not help, a referral to a specialist will follow, who will be either a neurologist or an orthopedist, depending on which complaints are in the foreground.

Conflicting opinions

  1. Various treatments for whiplash are offered in both the regular and the alternative circuit, and sometimes these treatments and therapies can be beneficial, even though there is no scientific basis for them. The results of this are personal. There is currently not complete agreement in the medical world on the treatment of whiplash and this leads to many conflicting opinions. Unfortunately, an effective treatment has not yet been found that would work for everyone. As a result, the patient with a whiplash is often in a kind of no man's land, because studies show no evidence of injury, while the complaints can be so drastic that work is not possible, for example.

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