Q: I have had bad pain in the muscles of my neck since being in a fender bender. Is this whiplash? Does it matter that I was hit by a car that was not going more than 10 mph?
A: Whiplash receives its name from the forms of acute neuromuscular injuries that occur when a sudden momentum pushes the body forward, while the head and neck are “whipped” backward. Actually, whiplash is caused by an impact from any direction, not just the rear. The counter force then usually results in a similar, but less severe, injury in the opposite direction as the body returns to the neutral position. Furthermore, the force does not have to be hard. The more important factor in quantifying the severity of a whiplash injury would be the acceleration of the body parts involved. For example, that means we need to determine how fast the neck went from a static starting position to the state of injury. Or how fast was it “whipped” to and fro. This is dependent on several factors above and beyond the speed of either vehicle or, more commonly a concern, how much damage is done to a vehicle.
Chiropractors have long been considered whiplash experts. An accident can injure muscles and tendons, the facet joints that guide spinal movement, as well as damage the annuli or the outer layer of the discs between the vertebrae. These are the very areas doctors of chiropractic treat during regular spinal adjustments. With x-rays and gentle palpations, the chiropractor determines misalignments the whiplash has caused in the cervical and thoracic areas. The injured tissues can easily be identified and addressed. If it is found that the injury involved enough force to fracture bone appropriate steps will be taken.
The chiropractor establishes a treatment program, which may include bed rest, the application of ice to reduce inflammation and a cervical collar to stabilize the neck. These are coupled with spinal adjustments to return injured areas to normal mobility. Additional modalities may later be used such as exercise, physical therapy and massage. Call your doctor of chiropractic after an accident. The sooner treatment begins, the less chance of future problems and the more rapid the improvement.
If you would like more information, health tips and a newsletter from Advantage Health & Wellness PLLC, join our mailing list.