Whiplash is an injury sustained to the cervical spine, or the neck, that can be extremely painful and lead to many serious long term problems and symptoms. Whiplash is trauma sustained to the neck where the head and neck are forcefully moved back and forth, like a cracking of a whip. Many times this injury is associated with automobile accidents, but whiplash can result from many traumas. Riding horses, collisions in sports, or even physical abuse can result in a whiplash type injury.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The common signs or symptoms that you may experience with a whiplash injury include neck pain or stiffness, headaches, and whiplash can also lead to neurological issues including pain or numbness and tingling down the arms.
Many times patients will be given a cocktail of medication in order to deal with the pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation that can occur due to a whiplash injury. However, while these medications address the symptoms of whiplash many times there can be underlying structural or neurological issues that arise from whiplash.
Understanding Whiplash Injury
In a normal person the neck should be lordotic, or have a C-shaped curve open to the back of the body. During a whiplash trauma, many times this curvature can straigthen or even reverse. Multiple whiplash injuries can result in a more destabilizing condition causing an S-curvature to persist. While pain may not be immediate with a change in curvature there can be long lasting structural, muscular, and nuerological implications to an injury such as this.
Studies are now showing that the damage caused by a whiplash injury may not be evident for 7-10 years following the accident. A loss of a normal cervical curve can lead to early onset degeneration or arthritis in the spine as well as postural changes that can lead to lots of pain and aggrivation down the road. A loss of a normal cervical curvature will also lead to something referred to as anterior head translation, where your head starts creeping out in front of you causing you to start slouching forward. According to an article in a 2002 issue of the American Journal of Chiropractic, “Clinically, anterior head translation (AHT) has been shown to be a common postural displacement, with a conservative estimate being 66 percent of the patient population”1. This anterior head translation can cause severe increases in the amount of load that the spine itself and the supporting musculature would need to hold your head up on a daily basis. No wonder you feel so tired half way through the day!
Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash
If you let this issue go it can set you up for severe issues down the road. We utilize the most cutting edge techniques in our office to restore normal structure of the spine but also to address and muscle or soft tissue injury that you may have sustained in your accident. Make sure you come on in to get checked out to see how chiropractic can help you not only feel better after an accident, but restore you back to optimal health!
- Griegel-Morris P, Larson K, Mueller-Klaus K, Oatis CA. Incidence of common postural abnormalities in the cervical, shoulder, and thoracic regions and their association with pain in two age groups of healthy subjects. Phys Ther 1992;72:425-431.