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11 Risk Factors of Whiplash - Part Two


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),” “vehicular,” and “collision” categories.

Human Factors (Part Two)


An occupant’s position may have an impact on the likelihood of experiencing injury. Whiplash injuries are more common when the body is twisted, turned, or if the person is leaning forward or in any other awkward position at the moment of impact.


When the head is turned at the time of impact, asymmetric loads are placed on the spinal ligaments, facet joints, intervertebral discs, and spinal nerves. This may increase the risk of injury. Additionally, having the head turned during a collision may increase the likelihood of more significant injuries.


In many cases, drivers and passengers of vehicles that are struck from the rear have no warning of the impending collision. Preparedness for impact may reduce the risk of whiplash. Furthermore, since the neck is more vulnerable in the relaxed state, awareness plays a role in the severity of an injury. One study reported the risk of having chronic pain was 15 times greater when the occupant was unaware.

The 11 Whiplash Risk Factors series continues in part three with three risk factors in the “vehicular” category.

  • Croft, Arthur C., (2009), Whiplash and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries. SRISD Press.
  • Spine Research Institute of San Diego
  • Ryan G.A., Taylor G.W., Moore V.M., Dolinis J. (1994;25(8):89-97) Neck Strain in Car
  • Winkelstein B.A., Nightingale R., Richardson W.J., Myers B.S. (May 2000), The Cervical Facet Capsule and its Role in Whiplash Injury. Spine.

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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