Whiplash and Automobile Accidents
The term “whiplash” was coined in 1928 to define an injury mechanism of sudden hyperextension followed by an immediate hyperflexion of the neck that results in damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the head and neck. While the term continues to be used, the severity and frequency of the whiplash injury have both increased, due to the increase in number of vehicles on the roads and the many distractions that a driver encounters.
Why is whiplash so complicated?
Unlike a broken bone, where an x-ray can validate the fracture, and there are specific standards of care and a predictable timeline for healing, whiplash injuries involve a complicated and unpredictable combination of muscle, joint, connective tissue, and nervous system disruptions that is not easy to diagnose and often challenging to treat. To further complicate the situation, symptoms from whiplash can take days or weeks to manifest, and therefore it is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are not as injured as you really are, and to delay seeking treatment. Yet another complicating factor is the mistaken belief that the extent of damage to your vehicle is directly related to the extent of damage to your body. In fact, while most vehicles can withstand 8-12 mph impacts without structural damage, most injuries to the humans in those vehicles occur at crash speeds below 12 miles per hour.
Common symptoms of whiplash?
The vast majority of the whiplash cases we treat are a result of car accidents, most often rear impact collisions, but whiplash can also occur with sports injuries and other types of accidents and falls. Neck pain is the single most common complaint in whiplash trauma, experienced by over 90% of patients. Headaches are experienced by over 50% of patients. Other common complaints include fatigue, shoulder pain, anxiety, pain between the shoulder blades, jaw pain, insomnia, and impaired concentration.
Why chiropractic care?
Chiropractic care is by far the most effective treatment for minimizing the long term effects of whiplash injuries. When injury occurs, inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain occur. These three components create fixations in joints of the spine, as well as scar tissue, thus resulting in a lack of range of motion. This hypomobility creates an increase in range of motion at adjacent levels (hypermobility), which increases wear and tear at those levels, causing or aggravating disc degeneration. Chiropractic care halts this cycle by eliminating fixations and restoring normal range of motion to all the joints. Chiropractic care is particularly effective when used in conjunction with other modalities that address soft tissue injuries, including ultrasound and muscle stimulation, massage therapy, kinesiotaping, and exercise rehabilitation.
Home care is also a necessary component of recovery from a whiplash injury. We will instruct you in home icing, stretching and strengthening exercises, avoidance of certain activities that might aggravate your condition, and the use of nutritional supplements to help decrease inflammation, pain, and spasming.
Many people choose to ignore symptoms and hope they go away on their own, or go to their GP and get medication for pain or muscle spasm. But ignoring symptoms or covering them up with drugs does not address the underlying problem, and the situation can worsen. Excessive scar tissue can occur, leading to further restriction in motion, long term degeneration (arthritis) can occur, and other chronic pain and headaches can be a lasting long term result of whiplash injuries.
We are here to help you!