Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

With all of today's modern technology, why can't they fix something as simple as a whiplash injury? When I went on-line to look at the studies about what causes whiplash, the results were still very sketchy. There's more that isn't known than is. Why is that?

Answer:

The marriage of engineers who understand kinematics (joint motion) and technology is taking place more and more. For example, researchers at the Biomechanics Research Lab at Yale School of Medicine offer us a peek into whiplash injuries.

They used high-speed digital cameras along with motion-tracking software to study neck motion during rear-impact injuries. They were able to find what speed and force cause injury at different levels of the spine. In general a lower force can cause damage to the joint and neck ligaments in the upper neck (C4-5). A higher force is needed to injure the lower neck (C6-7).

They found joint compression was the most common injury with lower impact forces. When the joint is pressed together by force, the lining of the joint is at risk for injury. The body's response to this is pain and inflammation, which may be what happened in your case.

Adam M. Pearson, BA, et al. Facet Joint Kinematics and Injury Mechanisms During Simulated Whiplash. In Spine. February 15, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 4. Pp. 390-397.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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