Whiplash injuries describe a number of injuries to the neck, usually following a car accident. Although car accidents seem to be the most common cause of whiplash, whiplash injuries can result from sports related trauma, falls, amusement park rides, turbulence on an airplane, and any situation where great force is applied to the head or neck.
Whiplash is a fairly common injury effecting approximately 1,000,000 people in the United States every year, and with the roads getting more and more congested, this number promises to rise over the years.
Main Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash occurs when the neck is thrust backwards at a high velocity and “whipped” forward again. Car accidents obviously provide the perfect recipe for this type of action. The exact mechanics of a whiplash injury are not fully understood as of yet but it is believed that damage to the ligaments of the neck is the main culprit. These ligaments are overstretched, strained, and may even become torn, but whiplash could also include damage to tendons, muscles, bone, and even to the intervertebral discs. It is very important to be evaluated whenever a whiplash injury is suspected.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Some of the symptoms of whiplash include but are not limited to stiff neck, neck pain, headache, dizziness, shoulder pain, fatigue, and back pain. If any of these symptoms are accompanied by numbness, tingling, or burning going down the arms or legs, than damage to the intervertebral disc should be ruled out. Chiropractic Doctors are highly qualified to diagnose and treat these types of injuries and should be consulted for an evaluation.
How Do Doctor’s Treat Whiplash Injuries?
The first step in treating Whiplash is to determine the extent of the injury, this is done by having an examination, which includes range of motion, strength testing, and possibly xrays to rule out any bone fractures. Gentle therapy would be rendered if necessary. This may include electrical muscle stimulation, ice or heat therapy, gentle massage therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. Treatments plans often change to fit the patients needs because there is no one size fits all treatment. The goal is always to get the patient out of pain as quickly as possible. If treated early usually patients make a full recovery.