A Whiplash injury is usually associated with an auto accident and can occur at speeds as low as 5 mph. It can also happen with any blow or force to the head that causes sudden thrust of the head forward and backward, straining or tearing the tissues, ligaments and muscles of the neck. It is a fairly common and very misunderstood injury that is often mistreated or left untreated all together.
The injury is usually the result of a rear impact while at a stopped or stationary position. Whiplash injury describes the damage to the bone structures and the soft tissues of the neck. Associated disorders include fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Where does whiplash injury occur? Possible injury sites in the neck may include the facet joint tissue, inter-vertebral discs ligaments, the spinal cord, the muscle and the dorsal nerve roots.
In a 2014 study, Biomechanics of Neck Injuries Resulting from Rear-End Vehicle Collisions, published by Koc University, School of Medicine in Istanbul, Turkey indicated whiplash injuries are difficult to diagnose using X-rays and/or MRIs. These injuries can cause long-term neck pain and limitation of movement.
They found “the acceleration of the person was quite different than the acceleration of the car,” and “acceleration of the head was 2 to 2.5 times greater than the acceleration of the car.” Injuries began at speeds of 5 mph and severity increased as acceleration increased. Passengers in the front seat had the greatest risk for injury. Whiplash injuries are nearly unavoidable with rear-end impacts although head restraints can help mitigate the damages.
As the damage from whiplash injuries happens almost instantly after impact but pain may not be felt for a few days or longer, it is important to see your chiropractor immediately. If you feel you may have a fracture or you have broken anything, GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Do not use heat or lay on a heating pad--this will cause more inflammation. Use ice, wrapped in a towel -- 5 minutes on, 50 minutes off. Don’t wait to see how you feel. An early evaluation and treatment can mean the difference of more rapid recovery and long-term chronic pain. Whiplash injuries can take 6 months to a year or longer to heal and it is important to continue care, even when the pain subsides—follow you doctor’s recommendation.
Insurance companies will often want to “settle” your claim quickly, especially if there is little damage to the car. Again, studies show whiplash injury can occur with low speeds a little as 5 mph, so check with your doctor and follow your spinal specialist’s recommendation to reduce risk of future or long-term chronic problems.
Contact Foresight, a Gilbert Chiropractic Wellness Center at 480-325-6977 for a free consultation after your auto accident. Your health is at stake! The doctors are board certified Atlas Orthogonists, providing precise and gentle care -- no popping or cracking -- for the entire family.