Q: I was hit from behind in traffic last week and now I am starting to feel very stiff and sore mostly around my neck. Is this whiplash? Can what you do to help me? Why is it just now starting to hurt?
A: Unless something else has also occurred to create pain in your neck now, then likely you are suffering from whiplash, or acceleration/deceleration syndrome. People most often suffer from whiplash when riding in a car that is struck from behind from another vehicle. When the head is suddenly jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits, the spinal muscles, tendons and ligaments can tear. In these collisions, the automobile accelerates forward. The body moves forward as well, but the head remains behind momentarily. In that split second is when most of the injury occurs.
This is a common condition treated by chiropractic and physical therapy to decrease pain at first, but more importantly, this type of physical medicine is focused on allowing for the most complete and appropriate healing of injured tissues. Unlike the wait and see approach promoted when you are handed a bottle of pills, the physical medicine approach offered by a DC or PT is focused on preventing long term scar tissue formation that can result in chronic pain.
The pain hada delayed onset for you likely because it tood time for the swelling of the injured tissues to accumulate and become painful. This mechanism is not unlike the effect of lifting weights heavily for the first time. it is the second and third day when you feel the soreness from using the muscles in the area.
With past technology, whiplash damage to the body from a car accident was difficult to detect when no bones were broken. Injury to soft tissues did not show up on normal x-rays, and it was more difficult to get coverage from insurance companies. Meanwhile, the injured party would be in considerable pain and unable to pay for treatment. New imaging devices such as CAT scans, magnetic imaging and ultrasound have improved this situation and now can offer proof of injury.
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash injuries consists of patient rehabilitation of the soft tissues involved in the injury and optimizing muscular function. Chiropractors have the most experience of all medical care providers in successfully treating whiplash damage to the body. If you are in an accident, do not wait until the pains begin a day or even two later. Immediately call your Doctor of Chiropractic and make an appointment.
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