Whiplash refers to an injury that causes pain and stiffness in the neck after the neck was forced to suddenly move further than its normal range of motion. It most often affects people who are rear-ended in a car accident and have had their heads suddenly forced backward or forward and then snapped in the opposite direction. This sudden motion causes sprains in the ligaments and muscles in the neck. This may also lead to nerve damage or even broken bones in rare cases.
Symptoms of whiplash may not manifest until a few days after the injury occurred. They include pain and stiffness in the neck (and sometimes in the muscles in the head, chest, shoulders and arms), headaches, dizziness and back pain.
To prevent the harmful effects of whiplash, always wear your seatbelt and adjust your headrest to the appropriate height.