Whiplash occurs when there is a sudden distortion or over-stretching of the spine, most often the neck. The soft tissues stretch or tear as the head snaps forward and then back again. Whiplash can occur from rear-end collisions, sports injuries such as skiing accidents or other modes of transportation such as airplane travel, or from being hit, kicked, or shaken. Symptoms can include pain and aching to the neck and back, referred pain to the shoulders, sensory disturbance (such as pins and needles) to the arms & legs, dizziness, nausea, and disorientation among other symptoms. These symptoms can appear directly after the injury, but often are not felt until days afterwards.

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