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11 Risk Factors of Whiplash - Part Four


Whiplash is a neck injury caused by forceful, uncontrolled neck movements. This type of injury is commonly experienced during a motor vehicle collision, but may also result from other trauma.

Some Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Neck pain, stiffness and soreness
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Sharp or shooting pain in the shoulders, upper back, arms, or hands
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the shoulders, upper back, arms, or hands
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

This series will identify 11 commonly seen risk factors that contribute to whiplash injuries. We have divided the risk factors into “human (part one and part two),” “vehicular,” and “collision” categories.



The point of impact is a factor in risk assessment of collisions. While large proportions of collisions involve frontal crashes, the risk of whiplash injuries is higher in rear-impact collisions.

One study found that individuals in rear-impact crashes are exposed to a more complex and unnatural neck movement upon being hit. They may experience a rapid change in direction of the head within a fraction of a second. Additionally, rear end collisions often cause the head to strike the head restraint, which may lead to further injury.


The likelihood of experiencing whiplash may increase when a person has a collision with a vehicle larger than his or her own vehicle. In general, the relative mass between two colliding vehicles is an important determinant of the outcome of a crash. Since a vehicle with a larger mass transfers more energy to a smaller vehicle, injuries, including whiplash, may be more likely and more significant to occupants in the smaller vehicle.

This concludes the 11 Whiplash Risk Factors series.

  • Berglund A., Alfredsson L., Jensen I., Bodin L., Nygren A. (Jan. 2003) Occupant- and Crash-Related Factors Associated with the Risk of Whiplash Injury. Ann Epidemiol.
  • Croft, Arthur C., (2009), Whiplash and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries. SRISD Press.
  • Spine Research Institute of San Diego

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health, wellness and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If you or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, it is recommended that you con­sult with an appropriately licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

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