10 IMPORTANT WHIPLASH FACTS
Whiplash is a very common injury to the cervical spine that occurs when the head is subjected to a severe jerking motion, such as occurs during a car accident. The sudden force of stopping causes the head and neck to snap forward and then back in an exaggerated fashion, the “whip-like” motion from which this injury gets it’s name. Many people have been diagnosed with whiplash and are left with more questions than answers. To help answer these questions you might have and assist you in getting proper treatment, here are the 10 must-know whiplash facts!
No damage to your vehicle does NOT mean no injury.
It does not take much speed at all to cause a whiplash injury. Even low speed collisions can cause enough force to damage the neck. Vehicle are designed with a safety buffer area that will crumple upon impact, absorbing the energy of the crash and reducing the damage of a sudden jerking stop on the occupants. If this area does not crumple, even more of the force is transferred to the vehicle occupants.
- Pain is not the only symptom of whiplash!
Neck and shoulder pain are the most common symptoms of whiplash, but they are not the only ones. Other symptoms may include numbness and tingling down the arm and fingers, nausea, difficulty swallowing and speaking, dizziness, jaw pain and clenching, blurry vision, ringing in the ears, muscle tenderness and headache.
- Symptoms do NOT always manifest immediately.
Many of us believe that injury will be immediately apparent, only to discover days or weeks down the road that symptoms begin developing. It can take anywhere from hours to months for full effects of injury to be felt, so getting immediate evaluation following a suspected whiplash injury is critical. Receiving prompt treatment will speed recovery and reduce pain.
- You do not need to be in a car to get whiplash.
You may think of whiplash as exclusively a result of vehicular accidents. However, many injuries have enough force to cause whiplash. This is a common injury in high-impact sport such as football, skating, snowboarding, skiing, boxing, soccer, water skiing, or gymnastics. Even a slip and fall can cause whiplash.
- Neck injury can still occur at low speeds
Did you know speeds of only 5-10 MPH generate enough force to cause injury to the muscles, tendons, and intervertebral disks of the neck? Whiplash occurs very quickly, often too quickly for muscles to contract and support the spinal column, which leaves the spine and tendons vulnerable to damage and hyperextension/flexion.
- X-Ray evaluation can prove soft tissue damage
X-Rays are not just for evaluating bone injuries! Radiologists (the specialists who read x-rays) are often only looking for bone injuries such as fractures and breaks, and will report these x-rays as “normal”. Chiropractors request special types of X-rays called “stress” or “flexion-extension” views. These special views allow your chiropractor to evaluate how the bones fit together and whether there has been any damage to ligaments or connective tissue.
- Inactivity after a whiplash injury can slow recovery
It is instinctive to rest and try not to move an injured area. It is important not to overexert injured areas, but immobilizing them can actually be detrimental. After several days of inactivity, both the injured AND healthy muscles begin to become weak and stiff. By gradually and gently increasing movement in the injured area, you promote healthy blood flow and normal range of movement, while reducing your risk of chronic pain.
- Aging increases your risk of whiplash injury
As we age, our tissues lose their elasticity and ability to rebound from injury. The intervertebral disks, which act as the cushions between our vertebrae, begin to dry up and lose their ability to protect our spines from impact. This results in a gradual loss of range of motion and increased risk of injury.
- Prompt care yields the best results!
It may take anywhere from hours to a month for the full extent of your injuries to be felt. The longer injuries are left uncorrected, the less likelihood that they can be swiftly resolved. Do not wait to receive care in the hope that symptoms will resolve themselves! Often if you are seen promptly following a whiplash injury, your course of treatment will be shorter and your recovery faster.
- Whiplash causes an unnatural “S” shaped curvature in the spine
In rear end impact collision, the seven cervical (or “neck”) vertebrae are forced out of their natural “C” shaped curve. The force of impact, even at low speeds, is enough to whip the neck into an unnatural “S” curve, damaging soft tissues and ligaments in the neck. This cracking whip-like motion is where whiplash gets it’s name.
Have you or a loved one suffered from whiplash? Early treatment in this injury is vital to speedy and permanent recovery! Mountain Park Chiropractic can help you recover from your injury, and get you back in the game now! Call us at (480) 706-0056 to schedule an appointment, or book online now!
By Rachel Peterson