The Backlash After Whiplash: What Can You Do?

Have you ever had a car accident? During the average lifetime, there is a good chance that you or someone you know will experience such an unfortunate event. Statistics show that one in four people will have a car accident during their lifetime. After a fender bender, whether you’re the driver or a passenger, you can take one or two pain medications and maybe do some physical therapy. Then, when you feel better, you may never think about it again. But what if the symptoms persist? Or worse, if you don’t have any symptoms, can an accident haunt you?

What is “Whiplash”?

The non-medical term whiplash was first used in 1928. Although more precise terms, such as acceleration flexion-extension neck injury or soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury have sometimes replaced it, “whiplash” is still commonly used for this type of soft tissue neck injury. . Whiplash injury specialist Dr. Arthur Croft estimates that as many as 3 million whiplash injuries occur each year in the United States and that one in three people will suffer from the condition.

Whiplash injury is a sudden strain or trauma that affects the bones, discs, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons of the neck, a region of the body that includes seven vertebrae and is known as the cervical region. The damaging forward and backward or even sideways shock of the head and neck is caused not only by car accidents, but also by contact sports, various amusement park rides, falls and attacks. Statistically, motor vehicle collisions, contact sports, and amusement park rides are the top three causes.

Several symptoms are associated with whiplash injury, including, but not limited to, neck and back pain, nausea, numbness, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, vertigo (loss of balance), inflammation, hearing impairment, headache, visual disturbances, fractures, and paralysis. Occasionally, there are no symptoms initially, only appearing days, weeks, or even years after the injury. The consequences of whiplash range from mild pain for a few days (the most common outcome) to severe disability caused by limited movement of the head or cervical spine, sometimes with persistent pain. It is likely that 40% to 50% of people with a whiplash injury have permanent pain.

Treating the Injury

After an accident, it is important to be checked immediately in an emergency room or by your chiropractor. Provided that no fracture has occurred, a chiropractor may perform an examination that begins with obtaining a detailed history, followed by orthopedic and neurological tests, a motion test, postural and palpation checks, and X-rays to assess the extent of damage or change. see in the spine. The neck should be perfectly straight on an X-ray and your chiropractor will be able to identify any misalignment (subluxation). On a side view, the neck should show the arc of a circle. Loss of the cervical curve, which is common with physical impact, can cause any of the aforementioned whiplash symptoms.

Treatment for whiplash includes passive and active exercises, gentle massage, chiropractic, therapeutic massage, spinal and extremity adjustments, as well as therapies such as traction to correct spinal posture, electrical stimulation to relax the muscle spasms, stretching, and ice. Applying ice immediately after most whiplash injuries helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Each application should be sustained for 10 to 20 minutes every hour. After 24 hours, alternating between ice and heat is recommended, up to 20 minutes per treatment. The ice or ice pack should be wrapped in a towel before use. To sleep, the patient may roll up a towel and place it under the neck while lying on his or her back so that the back of the skull rests on the bed, a position that promotes healing of the injury.

See also  Understanding and saving on Alberta car insurance

Chiropractic is preferred

Many studies have shown that chiropractic and acupuncture are more effective than medications for treating injuries sustained in car accidents. According to the Insurance Research Council, “nearly one-third of all claimants injured in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) seek treatment from doctors of chiropractic.” This is an impressive number when you consider that the National Safety Council (NSC) has determined that there are more than 12 million MVAs each year involving more than 20 million vehicles.

In a related study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers showed that “treatment of the facet joints” [which link the bones in the spine] not only relieved severe neck pain but also resolved the psychological disturbances associated with car accidents.” According to another study published in Dr. Stephen Foreman and Dr. Arthur Croft’s book Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome, 3rd Edition (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001), a recent comparison of medicine, acupuncture, and chiropractic care in a randomized trial reported that “comparing medication (Celebrex, Vioxx, or acetaminophen) [acetaminophen]) to acupuncture and spinal manipulation over the course of 9 weeks in subjects with chronic spinal pain (including neck to low back pain), the authors demonstrated quite profound superiority in chiropractic spinal manipulation.”

Many people choose chiropractic care for its benefit in ameliorating soft tissue injuries (i.e. ligaments, muscles, tissue), especially of the spine. Since injuries related to car accidents are most often sprains and strains of the spinal muscles and associated ligaments, it makes sense that chiropractic is the treatment of choice.

Preventing further injuries

Several proactive factors can help prevent whiplash injuries from occurring or worsening while driving. In addition to the obvious steps to avoid distraction, such as not using a cell phone to make calls or text, wearing a full lap belt is a must. Drivers and passengers should place their headrests in the center of the back of the skull and try to keep the head on the headrest while the car is in motion. Looking straight ahead and regularly checking the rear-view mirrors are also crucial for the driver.

Because some whiplash injuries last for years, in a cervical impact accident it is essential to get immediate attention. Seeking good medical and chiropractic care immediately can help prevent further injuries from developing and eliminate the need for surgery.

dr. Chad Laurence is one of fewer than 400 physicians worldwide to be recognized as a Leading Fellow of Clinical Biomechanics of Posture. His practice focuses on spinal structural correction, nutrition, massage therapy, acupuncture, family care and pediatrics, as well as support after personal injury and car accidents. dr. Laurence can help relieve symptoms for those suffering from a variety of physical problems, including neck and lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, extremity problems, and arthritis.