You have probably heard of whiplash. Whiplash is a common injury that results from accidents, particularly auto accidents. This injury results from the head and neck being forcefully thrown backward then forward, causing the cervical spine to go through extreme stress and lightning fast motions that the body is not accustomed to encountering. Usually, whiplash is caused by rear-ending car crashes. Other ways whiplash can be caused include football, falls while skiing, equestrian accidents, bungee jumping, roller coaster jars, assaults, and high-impact activities that involve extreme acceleration. In all these instances, the deceleration might be applied to the cervical spine and cause injury.
Medically known as cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome, whiplash is caused by the extreme acceleration followed by extreme deceleration that causes the injury to soft tissue. While whiplash can be treated successfully, it can have very troublesome symptoms that can impact daily living. Whiplash can cause a reduced range of motion, instability of the neck, severe pain of the upper back or neck, headaches, and neck pain that ranges from pins and needles feeling to severe pain that is excruciating and unbearable. Regardless of the severity, any level of whiplash warrants the need for medical treatment by a trained professional. Without the proper treatment, whiplash will continue to impact your daily life and your symptoms will worsen.
What Happens With Whiplash?
Whiplash can cause an injured person to suffer seriously and encounter reduced mental and physical abilities. Even if these are just temporary problems, they can lead to increased social isolation. The biomechanics of a whiplash injury can vary significantly, with much of it dependent upon the angle of the collision. Usually, injuries causing whiplash happen from behind, so the injury takes place in five different phases.
In the normal scenario, the car is struck from behind and the seat pushes against the back of the accident victim. Forces hit the spine and compress the cervical spine upward and against the head. The torso then goes forward while the head doesn’t move the same way. The cervical spine has a natural C-shape, but it temporarily curves to become an S-shape. The compression is abnormal, allowing shearing forces to potentially damage facet joints, intervertebral discs, and other structures in the neck.
At this point, the accident victim’s head slams back into the seat that is accelerating. The soft tissues at the neck’s front are much more likely to be injured as the neck quickly extends toward the back. The head will bounce off the car seat and then accelerate forward. The body is restrained by the seatbelt to prevent further injuries. The neck will flex quickly as the head is whipped forward injuring soft tissues at the back of the neck. The end result is whiplash, which is a painful condition that can impact the victim on different levels. Usually, the severity of the injury is closely correlated to the severity of the car crash but there are exceptions. Sometimes a sturdy car doesn’t show serious damage outside, but the forces that weren’t absorbed outside the vehicle were transferred through the interior of the car and caused whiplash.
What is the Course of the Whiplash Pain?
If you have suffered whiplash in an accident, usually you can expect a full recovery within three months. However, some people will suffer symptoms or chronic pain for much longer. Actually, there are cases where the injury has caused pain and problems for years longer. Some pre-existing conditions or factors play a role in whiplash recovery. Among those are older age, being female, suffering severe pain at the time of injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While oftentimes the symptoms of whiplash are apparent immediately after the time of the injury, there can be a 24-hour delay before the symptoms become evident.
How Do I Know If Whiplash is Serious?
Anyone who suffers physical symptoms following an auto accident should see a medical professional to be checked over thoroughly. There are some symptoms that are more serious and require immediate medical attention. Among those symptoms are:
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness radiating into the hand, shoulder, or arm
- Severe pain
- Instability of the neck
- Balance and coordination problems
- Depression, sleep difficulties, moodiness, decreased concentration, irritability, behavioral changes
The earlier you seek medical care for your whiplash, the better the outcome and the faster the results. Delaying treatment could even impact the effectiveness of the treatment. Minor whiplash can relieve itself of symptoms in just a few days, but more serious cases might require ongoing care. Serious cases can cause cognitive and emotional problems along with chronic pain. Whiplash symptoms can vary greatly and be very complex in nature. Sometimes they are referred to as whiplash-related or whiplash-associated disorders.
What are the Most Common Whiplash Symptoms?
There are dozens of possible symptoms resulting from whiplash, but there are some symptoms that are much more common than others. Some of the more common whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Neck instability
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in neck
- Weakness or numbness
- Radiating tingling
- Upper back pain
- Shoulder pain
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
If you have suffered injuries in an auto accident that might be whiplash, a medical professional has to diagnose your condition. Despite the advances in medical technology and medical care, there are several intricate steps in getting an accurate diagnosis. When you visit the medical care provider, you will complete a patient history, have a physical examination and undergo diagnostic imaging to rule out a neurological problem or fractures. After your condition has been accurately diagnosed, a treatment plan will be established.
Effective Whiplash Treatment
A Greenville, SC chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center, P.A. can effectively treat your whiplash and its symptoms. We are highly trained and knowledgeable about chiropractic care and whiplash. We offer a variety of treatment options, such as chiropractic adjustments, decompression therapy, neck and upper back exercises, disc decompression therapy, K-laser therapy, stress tension management, nutritional modification, meditation, and many more services. Call (864) 516-8917 today to schedule your consultation.