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Whiplash is a term familiar to many. It is a commonly used term to describe injury to the spine and associated structures caused by, or related to, a sudden jerking motion either forward, backwards or sidewards. Whiplash can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, sporting injuries and injuries attained during recreational activities.

WAD is an umbrella term used to denote a range of signs and symptoms as a result of whiplash. While the exact injury mechanism in whiplash is unclear, a range of signs and symptoms of varying degrees of severity can be reported. Usually, WAD is classified into five main categories depending on the severity of the injury (Quebec Taskforce Classification of WAD).

Grade 0 - No complaint about the neck; no physical signs

Grade I - Neck complaint of pain, stiffness or tenderness only; no physical signs

Grade II - Neck complaint, and musculoskeletal signs (decreased range of motion and point tenderness)

Grade III - Neck complaint, and neurological signs (decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits)

Grade IV - Neck complaint and fracture dislocation 

Symptoms of WAD

Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck and/or shoulder region, headaches, weakness, pins and needles, and tingling sensations. At times, symptoms may also include difficulties with seeing, hearing, swallowing and sleeping, as well as feelings of dizziness and fatigue, and trouble concentrating.

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