Whiplash: What Is It?
Whiplash is the term applied to injuries where the neck is rapidly jolted into flexion and then extension, creating a whip-like movement. Whiplash is most commonly seen in people involved in auto accidents, but it can also result from sports injuries, falls, workplace accidents, and other traumatic incidents. It’s a condition we see often in our office from patients seeking a Brookfield chiropractor.
Due to their complex nature and extensive impact on peoples’ daily lives, few topics in health care are discussed as frequently as whiplash injuries. Unlike broken bones or other traumatic injuries, whiplash injuries usually involve an unpredictable combination of nervous system, muscle, joint and connective tissue disorders. Because of this, whiplash is commonly misunderstood and can be confusing for patients.
Pain Isn’t The Only Symptom
Although whiplash injuries are most commonly associated with neck and shoulder pain, many whiplash sufferers also experience dizziness, vertigo, difficulty swallowing, TMJ problems, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and even low back pain after a whiplash injury. Symptoms may be felt immediately or may develop slowly over the hours or even days following an accident.
Whiplash Injuries Can Occur Even At Speeds Less Than 10 MPH
Though it’s hard to believe that such minimal speeds can cause trauma to your body, recent research examining low-speed rear-impact car accidents found that 29% of people involved in collisions at speeds of just 2.5 MPH developed symptoms related to whiplash. It’s important to understand that the speed of a collision does not necessarily correlate to the severity of trauma your body may experience. In fact, it has been demonstrated that a rear-end motor vehicle accident at just 10 MPH can produce 9 G’s of force in the cervical spine!
Whiplash Forces Your Neck Into An Unnatural S-Shaped Curve
In a normal spine, the seven vertebrae that make up the neck form a 35-45 degree forward curvature called the cervical lordosis. During a rear-end collision, the torso is forced backwards while the lower cervical spine moves forward into hyperextension and the upper cervical spine and head move backward into hyperflexion, causing the S-shaped curve seen in the illustration below. This causes injury to the neck as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments are stretched beyond their normal limits trying to hold the spine in position against opposing forces.
Chiropractic Treatment For Whiplash
The good news is that chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat many of the conditions caused by whiplash and studies have repeatedly shown that the most effective treatment for whiplash injuries is a combination of chiropractic care and soft tissue rehabilitation. At Ascent Chiropractic, we will perform a thorough history and physical examination, order x-rays or other imaging tests if necessary, treat the spine and soft tissues as indicated, and instruct you in proper home care for rehabilitation.
More than 1 million people suffer whiplash injuries every year. Though most minor whiplash injuries heal within six to nine months, without proper chiropractic treatment and soft tissue rehabilitation more than 20% of those who suffer from whiplash injuries continue to suffer from pain, weakness or restricted movement two years after their accident.
We realize you have a choice in care and rehabilitation following an accident. If you, a friend or family member in the Milwaukee, West Allis or Greenfield area is suffering from pain related to an auto accident, you don’t need to suffer with chronic pain. We sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing us as your healthcare provider and look forward to serving you and your family. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Woodward MN, et al. Chiropractic Treatment of Chronic Whiplash Injuries. Injury. 1996;27:643-645.
Panjabi MM, et al. Cervical Spine Curvature During Simulated Whiplash. Clinical Biomechanics. 2004;19(1).
Eck JC, Hodges SD, Humphreys SC. Whiplash: A Review of a Commonly Misunderstood Injury. Am J Med. 2001 Jun 1;110(8):651-6.