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Whiplash injury is the most common injury suffered from a motor vehicle accident. Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue of the neck, also referred to as neck sprain or neck strain. It is often caused by a sudden forceful movement of the neck, but with no direct contact to the neck. It may include injury to the joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. Acupuncture is one possible treatment for this type of injury.

Hyperextension of the neck upon impact results in a number of capillaries and tissue fibers being broken, which, if left alone, can cause scar tissue development. In many cases, abnormalities can not be viewed upon x-ray and there is no visible injury. As a result, the seriousness of an injury is often initially overlooked.

Symptoms of Whiplash

People who experience whiplash may report experiencing one or more symptoms. Symptoms can occur immediately after the accident, or may appear several days or even weeks later:

  • Neck / Shoulder pain and stiffness

  • HeadachesLow back pain

  • Sensations such as burning or "pins and needles"

  • Irritability

  • Poor sleep

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty with concentration or memory

  • Depression

  • Dizziness / Light-headedness

  • Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Blurred vision

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Web site:
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
Web site:
Judith Horstman is a contributing editor to Arthritis Today magazine and author of The Arthritis Foundation's Guide to Alternative Therapies.
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