Whiplash, also called cervical acceleration/ deceleration (or CAD) syndrome, is an injury that can cause a great deal of neck pain. It is commonly caused by car accidents, falls, and contact sports. It results from a quick, jerking motion that forces the neck beyond its normal range of motion.
When the head is suddenly and violently whipped back and forth, the cervical spine can be hyperextended, or forced past its normal range of motion. This can injure the vertebrae, supporting ligaments, joints and muscles in the neck and cause neck pain.
Symptoms may occur immediately after an injury or several days later. Whiplash sufferers may experience neck pain and stiffness, headache, dizziness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, burning or prickling sensations, or shoulder and back pain.
Whiplash may be treated with a soft cervical collar that immobilizes the neck while it heals. Other treatments include medication, physical therapy and nerve blocks.