What happens to the disc in a whiplash injury?
These 2 studies looked at the frequency of disc herniations after whiplash. The first study looked at all types of whiplash including high, medium, and low speed collisions. It showed that 25% of whiplash victims have herniated discs, 20% of whiplash victims have herniated discs with radicular (arm or leg pain) symptoms, 39% of whiplash patients have degeneration 5-10 years later, and whiplash patients are twice as likely to need surgery as those not involved in a whiplash injury.
The second study only involved high speed collisions. They found that 72% of whiplash injuries have single or multilevel cervical herniations, 23% have thoracic and lumbar disc herniations and 18% had spinal fractures.
These studies show how common people are seriously and permanently injured in whiplash injures of all speeds.
Panjabi, M. M., Ito, S., Pearson, A. M., & Ivancic, P. C. (2004). Injury mechanisms of the cervical intervertebral disc during simulated whiplash. Spine, 29(11), 1217-1225.
Barth, J. T., Freeman, J. R., Broshek, D. K., & Varney, R. N. (2001). Acceleration-deceleration sport-related concussion: The gravity of it all. Journal of Athletic Training, 36(3), 253-256.