by Richard Hollis
Whiplash is commonly mentioned in relation to car accidents, but this injury can be caused by many different types of accident during which the patient suffers a blow to the head or is suddenly jolted.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury that is caused by a sudden and rapid movement of the head that can cause the head to jolt backwards, forwards or sideways and it tends to affect the neck and upper back area.
If you suffer any pain in your neck or back following an accident, get this checked out by a doctor even if these symptoms have taken a few days to develop.
How whiplash is graded
Different patients can encounter varying levels of whiplash and medical professionals use the Quebec Task Force to assess and grade the injury.
The gradings are as follows:
- Grade 0: No neck pain, stiffness or other physical signs are noticed.
- Grade 1: The patient complains of neck pain and stiffness or tenderness, but the physician conducting the examination cannot find any physical signs.
- Grade 2: The patient complains of neck pain and the physician finds that there is tenderness in the neck and a decreased range of motion.
- Grade 3: The patient says they have neck pain and there are also neurological signs, such as sensory deficits, decreased deep tendon reflexes and weakness.
- Grade 4: The patient reports that they have neck pain and there is also evidence of dislocation, fracture or injury to the spinal cord.
At the Broadgate Spine and Joint Clinic, whiplash injuries that are graded as 1-3 are treated with a team approach by our specialists.
Patients with grade 3-4 whiplash will be assessed by our spinal surgeon and an MRI scan will be carried out to see if a fracture, nerve compression or dislocation requires surgery.
If you would like to read more about whiplash, take a look at our Broadgate Journal article.