Some people in California might be quick to dismiss the concept of whiplash as a serious injury but they should not do this. Whiplash is a real injury that impacts many people and can cause serious pain and reduced functioning. Understanding it is important as it can happen as the result of even a relatively minor accident.
As explained by Spine Health, there are multiple phases of a whiplash injury that may contribute to soft tissue damage as well as damage to the intervertebral discs in the neck and spine. First a car seat might compress a spine in an upward motion and then the head may be forced into the headrest of the seat and then forward again. In one part of this series a person's upper body may be pushed forward while the head remains in the original location which puts the spine's normal angle out of whack.
According to WebMD, whiplash is a form of neck strain which should not be confused with neck sprain. In a neck sprain, the ligaments that hold bones together may be torn. In a neck strain or whiplash, it is the tendons that hold muscles to the bone which may be torn. The muscles themselves might also be torn in a whiplash injury.
Pain may be experienced not only in the neck but in the form of a headache and it may also radiate down through a person's shoulder and arm. After a whiplash injury a person might not be able to move their head or neck fully.