What is Whiplash Injury (Hyperflexion/Hyperextension Injury)?

Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) present as an acute trauma caused by sudden acceleration and deceleration movements in the cervical spine, specifically a quick over-bending forward and backwards of the neck (hyperextension and hyperflexion). This rapid motion to the cervical spine results in soft tissue sprain/strain complications. The whiplash injury may be further complicated by segmental dislocations, torn cervical ligaments and/or tendons, intervertebral disc damage (known as a rim lesion and resulting in cervical radiculopathy), or vertebrae fractures.

Examples that could cause a whiplash injury include a rear-end motor vehicle accident or close-contact sports like rugby or football etc. and extreme sports like snowboarding, bungy jumping or water skiing can produce a hyperflexion/hyperextension injury to the cervical spine. The whiplash motion in the neck can cause strain and possibly tearing of the anterior and posterior ligaments of the neck, which leads to injury and instability of the cervical spine.

Following the injury, pain can be felt immediately or up to one week following the trauma; muscle tenderness and spasms as well as cervical radiculopathy into the neck, shoulders and arms may be present. Headaches, reduced neck movement, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision are not uncommon. Movement will elicit further signs and symptoms of whiplash.

Hyperflexion and hyperextension injuries are serious and not to be taken lightly. Rehabilitation following a whiplash injury is a delicate process and in some instances referral for immediate surgery is required.

If you are suffering from a whiplash injury, we have a team who is ready to help you and get you on the road to recovery. Book an appointment with Precision Health today!

Call us on (02) 9639 7337 or book online.

Kazeminasab, S, Nejadghaderi, SA, Amiri, P, Pourfathi, H, Araj-Khodaei, M, Sullman, MJM, Kolahi, A-A, & Safiri, S, 2022,, ‘Neck pain: global epidemiology, trends and risk factors’, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 26–26, doi: 10.1186/s12891-021-04957-4.

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