Life after a Whiplash

Apr 21, 2023

When your spine has been in a car accident the consequences can be catastrophic- whether you experience pain or not.

It is incredibly common to be in a car accident and not feel pain at the time of impact. This is either due to adrenaline, concern for the vehicles and even the general overwhelm of being hit. It is remarkably that even if our spine has had a major trauma, we do not necessarily feel pain instantly. Here is what happens under the surface.

No matter what direction of impact the collision is, or whether you felt pain at the time, 9 times out of 10 your neck would have been jolted with such a force that it was forced to move in an unnatural way, leading to what we see in the office as a “Whiplash Neck.” Your brain’s immediate reaction is to brace but the weight of the head will cause the neck to become hyperextended, then hyperflexed, straining not only the muscles but jarring the spinal facet joints and straining the spinal ligaments. .

A whiplash neck is when sudden forces traumatically change the alignment of the spine. And a person can experience pain or other symptoms months or years later. This delay in symptoms is usually due to accumulation of compensatory patterns, as the body tries to adapt, stresses accumulate, and a person moves from being asymptomatic to symptomatic.

If the natural forward curve of the neck has been reversed, leaving the cervical spine straighter or in an ‘S’ shape, the muscles go into a guarded spasm and the spinal cord and dura are under more tension. This change puts the muscle, fascia and nervous system under such tension that it can be felt all the way down to the calves by the person assessing you.

Many people weeks or even months post collision can start experiencing headaches, neck pain, arm pain, dizziness or shoulder issues. This is because the nerves in the neck flow into these areas.

The brain will respond to the shock of being in any sort of traumatic collision by upregulating the fight, flight or freeze (FFF) response. Which is our bodies natural way to respond to a threat.

People can experience any of the following symptoms if they have experienced a whiplash injury. And then, if left, this state of being can manifest into greater physical challenges or health problems.


  • Poor sleep (regular waking’s or unable to fall asleep)
  • Digestive issues (unregulated digestion, fast and slow irregular digestion)
  • Anxiety or a general feeling of ‘tense’
  • Stiff neck, particularly in the mornings.
  • Painful or weaker shoulders



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