The muscles are strained during an accident. The involuntary movement can cause tenderness and painful swelling in the shoulders and neck. The nerves stretch along with the muscles. You are likely to have nerve damage if your head is not in the forward position during the impact.
Your joints are part of your cervical vertebrae, and the joints allow your bones to move smoothly whenever you move your head. When the joints are injured, you might have severe pain in your neck. The pain can radiate to your arms and shoulders.
Your discs make space for the sensitive nerves in your spinal cord. During whiplash, the discs can herniate, bulge or rupture. The injury can cause painful nerve irritation. Besides car accidents, sports impacts can cause this type of whiplash.