Whiplash is the term used for injuries to the neck as a result of an auto accident. Typically, a whiplash injury occurs when you are involved in a rear end collision accident and your neck ‘whips’ back and forth extremely rapidly. It can also occur with side to side neck movements. Whiplash can also occur from a sudden stop without a collision. Whiplash injuries can happen at all different speeds; however, the most important factor is that amount of time it takes for the body and neck to come to a complete stop from a given speed. The shorter the time, the more force that is generated into the neck. The damage to your car does NOT determine how severe the whiplash injury may be. Recent studies have shown that collisions at X miles an hour can create enough pressure in the neck to cause an injury to the occupant.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The motion of whiplash is a rapid flexion and extension of the neck. Muscle and ligaments that support the neck are put under stress, which can be stretched or torn. Muscles can go into spasm to attempt to prevent movement or further injury in the neck. Ligaments that are torn can cause the joints of the neck to be unstable. In some cases, bones can be broken due to extreme flexion and extension of the neck. Damaged tissues in the neck can become quite pain sensitive leading to severe pain for days, weeks, or even months after the injury. Neck pain after a whiplash accident may be the most common symptom, however, numbness/tingling into the arms and hands is also a common symptom due to nerves in the lower neck that have been inflamed or pinched. Headaches and dizziness are also symptoms that can be present, especially if one hits their head during the event.
How Does a Doctor of Chiropractic evaluate Whiplash and Neck Pain?
When a patient has sustained a whiplash-type injury, the doctor will take a thorough health history and perform a physical examination consisting of range of motion tests, muscle strength tests, sensory tests and orthopedic tests that help to give more information about the exact location and severity of the injury. Based on the findings, the doctor may need to refer a patient for x-rays of the neck to determine if there are any misalignments to the bones of the neck. During the examination process, if there are any tests that are performed that indicate that the patient may have herniated or bulged a disc in the neck, or possibly torn other ligaments in the neck, then an MRI scan may be needed to properly diagnose the injury.
Based on the location and severity of the injury, a treatment plan can created.
Also, other conditions we treat:
- Low back pain/sciatica
- Neck pain