Whiplash is the common term used, but it is also called cervical acceleration deceleration syndrome (CAD). This syndrome has many different symptoms, and it affects people in different ways. This is in part is due to the different forces involved in the rear end type accident, as well as the type of vehicle, and of course occupant kinematics.

The syndrome is characterized by a constellation of symptoms, such as:

1. Neck pain
2. Neck and back stiffness
3. Upper back pain
4. Headache arising from the back of the neck
5. Diffuse pain in the back that can radiate to the arms
6. Trigger Points

There are many factors involved such as:

1. Seat angle
2. Height, weight, gender of occupant
3. Prior health conditions
4. Seat belts
5. Type of cars involved
6. Speed of impact
7. Amount of damage to all the cars
8. Age
9. Awareness of impending impact

CAD trauma will be unique to each individual due to the factors mentioned above.  Other symptoms can occur due to being rear ended such as:

1. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
2. Tempromandibular Joint Dysfunction
3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
4. Barre-Lieou Syndrome
5. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
6. Post concussion Syndrome
7. Fibromyalgia
8. Disc Herniations

Such symptoms should be examined as soon as possible. Whiplash symptoms are you usually the most magnified 72 hours after the accident, but they can also appear weeks to months after the car accident.

Whiplash damage occurs so fast during a car accident, that the body is unable to respond. Just about every type of tissue can be damaged, such as:

1. Nerves
2. Muscles
3. Tendons
4. Joint Capsules
5. Joint surfaces
6. Ligaments
7. Bones

The damage occurs because of the high amount of acceleration and deceleration that the spine undergoes, and the G forces that correspond. When an individual is in an automobile crash, the cervical spine first extends. While the cervical spine extends, downward pressure is also created. The down pressure (axial compression) in combination with the extension creates shear forces. At this time, the brain undergoes a high degree of force as well.

The shear forces generated in the brain are powerful enough to shear individual nerve axons. This leads to brain injury, post traumatic headaches, and causes symptoms such as: (described by Barnat – listed in descending frequency of occurance

1. Headache
2 Irritability
3. Insomnia
4. Anxiety
5. Memory Problems
6. Other Pain
7. Concentration problems
8. Depression
9. Dizziness
10. Confusion
11. No control of emotions
12. Loss of libido
13. Tinnitus
14. Can’t carry out plans
15. Flashbacks
16. Don’t enjoy sex
17. Nightmares
18. Arithmetic problems

As you see, car accident injuries can be numerous, and sometimes hidden. I’ve seen patients who have been treated for over a year before they are diagnosed with a brain injury. This is why it is best to see a doctor who has been trained to deal with car accident whiplash type injuries.


Dr. Trent Artichoker MS, DC

Denver Chiropractic, LLC
3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211