In the unfortunate event of an accident, three types of whiplash injuries to the neck are usually caused by indirect trauma. Most often, this occurs when the head is flung backward (hyperextension), or forward (hyperflexion), resulting in what is commonly known as “whiplash”. It is incumbent on us all to mind road hazards; even traveling at speeds of 15mph enough energy is generated to cause whiplash. This is true even of those wearing seatbelts.
Each year, over 800,000 whiplash injuries are reported. Most are treatable with some form of chiropractic care, physical therapy or self-treatment.
The term “whiplash” is a non-medical term that covers a few different types of injuries to the neck region. We will explore those more in-depth here:
The three types of whiplash injuries can occur in one of a few ways. Car accidents, sports injury, or another type of physical trauma are the most common types of force put upon the neck. One should always seek medical attention initially to ensure there are no broken bones, bleeding, or permanent tissue damage.
The abnormal jerking motion in the neck can cause severe pain. This can also result in limited range of motion in the fibrous tissue enveloping the spine. Stiffness, tenderness and even tingling in the cervical region extended are commonly reported as symptoms. Typically, mild ligaments strains heal within 3-4 weeks but patients must be cautious not to rush back to normal activity.
Ligaments are the connective tissue that attaches bones to one another. They have the important job of holding the vertebrae of the spine in place. Unfortunately, these ligaments more exposed in the neck than other parts of the body. This leaves them more vulnerable and at risk of injury.
Many of the symptoms may present at some point after the accident. Cases are known to go from acute to chronic conditions if not examined and treated correctly. This should be done in the days/weeks immediately following the accident.
The most frequent of injuries to the cervical region are sprains and strains to the musculature of the upper cervical region. This can include pain and weakness in muscles groups extending down toward the upper back and arms. Additionally, causes of pain in the region can be due to the compression of nerve roots embedded deep in the muscle and tissues protecting the spine. This can cause cascading pain to other areas of the body but has its roots in the upper spine.
General discomfort and loss of full range of motion are what most typically happens when inflammation increases within 24 hours of the trauma. It is important to seek treatment immediately in order to minimize long-term effects.
In addition to giving these injuries the necessary time, slow therapeutic stretching, along with heat and ice treatments can ensure you have a quick and healthy recovery. Your clinician will be able to assist you with a personalized plan best suited to your needs.
Another common occurrence in the aftermath of an accident is the protrusion of intervertebral discs after the impact of an accident. If severe enough this does require surgery. However, there is an increased amount of evidence that suggests this is often misdiagnosed. These injuries can heal properly, and even better, with non-surgical, non-invasion methods and close monitoring.
With a few chiropractic manipulation sessions, you can have the problematic discs realigned back in their proper position. The reduction of stress on the joints will lead to a decrease in inflammation and therefore less pain. Manipulation combined with physical therapy can then strengthen the muscle groups surrounding the area to prevent any future relapse.