JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of a whiplash injury to the neck. When the neck is bent forcibly and violently for- wards and then backwards, or vice versa, an injury can be caused to spinal joints of the neck, to the spinal cord, to ligaments, and soft tissues. Spine damage can involve subluxation (partial disloca- tion) of a cervical joint, seen here at the sixth cervical vertebrae. There may be a fracture of a cervical vertebra or a ligament may rupture. If the spinal cord is not itself damaged, full recov- ery can occur within weeks. Commonly pain and neck stiffness are worse 24 hours after the injury. Treatment involves an orthopaedic collar, muscle- relaxant drugs, and physiotherapy.
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