Sure, if you get into a major car accident where you are hit pretty hard, your head flops back-and-forth or side to sign a few times. Is it going to cause pain? Will it alter your neck alignment? Most Likely!
One reason it causes pain and problems is that it will affect all the different tissues of the neck. It won't be only the bones of the spine, but you have muscles, tendons, ligaments, and more. When various areas get stressed and strained it makes it difficult for the body to hold adequate alignment. This will also slow the healing process.
Let's review some of the anatomy in the neck and the areas that tend to be most affected: The first one is the spine. What we should normally have is a C curve in the neck, that "c" opened toward the back; looking at an x-ray, you can clearly see this from the side. When looking at the spine from the front or back, it should be straight up and down.
Any time you've misaligned the spine in some way, it leads to a greater chance of nerve pressure and therefore a greater chance for pain. Not only this but if you have misalignments then you can have or get something much worse. Some other ailment besides pain...
Let's also look at that the spine is similar to a set of building blocks. When you stack the blocks, if the base is not strong there is chance for collapse. The spine is much the same. If those spinal bones are all stacked up crooked on one another, or maybe built with a big side to side curvature, it will not be as stable and strong.
This is how arthritis forms. You see it is a body last resort mechanism to stabilize otherwise unstable ares. It pulls Calcium out of bone, making spurs. Those spurs will eventually come together causing what we call fusion. Arthritis goes in stages, phase I may be the start of breakdown but if we get to stage IV, we have fusion.
I will cover theses degenerative changes at a later date. Next week I will cover those other areas of the neck that are commonly affected in an accident, as well as some typical symptoms we may get, and what we can do to get rid of those symptoms.