Whiplash typically occurs when a person's head is forcefully and quickly thrown backward and then forward. This motion can injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other tissues of the neck.

This type of injury may result from:

  • Auto accidents. Rear-end collisions are the most common cause of whiplash.
  • Physical abuse or assault. Whiplash may also result from incidents of being punched or shaken. Whiplash is one of the injuries sustained in shaken baby syndrome.
  • Contact sports. Football tackles and other sports-related collisions can sometimes cause whiplash injuries.
Jan. 20, 2015