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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

414-272-3636 877-412-7409

What Causes Whiplash in Car Accidents

What causes whiplash in car accidents is the sudden extension of the Cervical Spine (backward movement of the neck) and flexion (forward movement of the neck). This type of trauma is also referred to as a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury. Rear-end or side-impact motor vehicle collisions are the number one cause of whiplash with injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and discs of the cervical spine.

The human spine is made up of 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to form the spinal column.  The cervical spine is formed by the first seven vertebrae referred to as C1 to C7.

A bony ring attaches to the back of the vertebral body. When the vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, the rings form a hollow tube through which the spinal cord passes while protected by the spinal column.

As the spinal cord travels down through the spine, it sends out nerve branches between each vertebrae called nerve roots. The nerve roots that come out of the cervical spine form the nerves that go to the arms and hands.  As the nerves leave the spinal cord, they pass through a small bony tunnel on each side of the vertebra, called a neural foramen.

Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc is made of connective tissue.  The disc is a specialized connective tissue structure that separates the two vertebral bodies of the spinal segment. The disc normally works like a shock absorber. It protects the spine against the daily pull of gravity. It also protects the spine during activities that put strong force on the spine, such as jumping, running, and lifting.

An intervertebral disc is made up of two parts. The center, called the nucleus, is spongy. It provides most of the ability to absorb shock. The nucleus is held in place by the annulus, a series of strong ligament rings surrounding it. Ligaments are strong connective tissues that attach bones to other bones.

There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae--one on each side of the spine. The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is a smooth, rubbery material that covers the ends of most joints. It allows the bone ends to move against each other smoothly, without pain. The alignment of the facet joints of the cervical spine allows freedom of movement as you bend and turn your neck.

McCormick Law Office attorneys get the best results in MVA or automobile collision whiplash cases when the mechanism of injury is consistent with a cervical acceleration-deceleration neck injury.  Yes, low impact crashes can cause whiplash.

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829 North Marshall Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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