If you have been in a car accident or sustained a whiplash injury you should take it seriously. There is a lack of awareness in the public regarding whiplash injuries and their impact on health. Many whiplash and car accident victims have little to no symptoms immediately following the injury however just because blood wasn’t drawn does NOT mean damage wasn’t done. In this article, we would like to discuss what some of the ramifications are that may stem from whiplash injury. Also, we will discuss a little-known procedure called Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic that has been helping people with neck injury recover their health naturally.
Whiplash is a sudden concussion of forces that are applied to the neck and head from an outside force. By far and away the most common cause of whiplash is car accidents. However, whiplash can happen during sports, slip and falls and other trauma outside of automobile accidents. Whiplash is caused when a force either from the rear, side or diagonally forces the head to quickly move in one direction or the other. This sudden whip type motion affects the muscles, ligaments, tendons and supporting connective tissues of the head, neck and upper back. Long term these types of injuries can cause a host of chronic health problems such as, fibromyalgia, Meniere’s disease, headaches, fatigue, cognitive problems and vertigo.
It is imperative if you have had a whiplash type trauma that you get to a Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractor as soon as possible. Of course, if medical attention is necessary because of broken bones or lacerations please seek medical attention first. However, once those medical issues have been taken care of you should make sure that your upper cervical spine is not misaligned which over time can cause long term chronic health issues. Research has shown that people who do NOT take care of their neck injury that over half of whiplash victims many years following their injury still suffer with chronic pain. Just because you feel no pain following w whiplash injury does not mean your upper cervical spine was not injured. Make sure you get checked by a trained Blair Upper Cervical Doctor.
Whiplash was coined in 1928 to help explain the mechanism of sudden backwards extension of the neck followed by forward flexion of the neck that resulted in ligament, muscle, and connective tissue injury. This is especially true between the head and neck. Today we know that sudden impacts, even ones that do NOT cause the classic whipping motion can still cause tissue injury.
Unfortunately, in this country there is a stigma associated with people that suffer whiplash. Often their injuries are discounted and insurance companies and lawyers do everything they can to deny claims. Unlike with a broken bone , which takes simple x-ray to view, whiplash is not always easy to detect through conventional tests. While x-rays and MRI are great tools to asses damage many cases of whiplash look normal in conventional medical test. However, recently a new technology called DMX motion x-ray has improved detection of joint capsule and ligament damage that is not identified on MRI or static x-ray.
Below we would like to explain the mechanism that is involved in whiplash. When you understand the bio mechanics of a whiplash injury you will better understand the importance of seeing a trained professional such as a Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractor to asses the damage and provide care that can help you heal up properly. By seeking care and correcting the bio-mechanical problems that result from whiplash you are saving yourself from chronic health problems down the road.
We will explain what happens when someone is involved in a rear end whiplash injury. During this type of collision, the body is subject to a variety of forces. During a whiplash injury, there are four main phases that occur. Each phase has different forces that effect the body. Each contributes to the overall injury and is responsible for ligament, nerve, muscle, joint capsule, and connective tissue injury.
When your car is struck from behind the car is pushed forward simultaneously the mid back is slammed against the seat causing forces to move up the spine to the neck and at the same time compressing the neck discs and joints. As the seat moves forward your head moves backwards. This causes shearing forces in the neck. It is important that your seat rest is set the top of the head. Without the head rest the neck sustains more injury as the backwards motion of the head allows for more whipping and extension of the neck joints.
During phase two, the upper body has reached peak acceleration however the head has not begun to accelerate forward. At this point the head continues to move backwards. The difference between these two forces causes a shearing force in which can cause severe damage to the ligaments, muscles, and soft tissue of the neck. This phase is where a lot of injury occurs and can set the person up for chronic problems down the road.
During phase three the upward compression of the torso halts and reverses. The head and the neck are at their maximum forward acceleration. During this phase, the seat-belt halts your forward progress and many times this is where shoulder and rib injuries occur due to the seat-belt.
This phase is where the most damage occurs in a whiplash injury. During this phase, your upper body is stopped by the seat-belt and shoulder restraint and the head can move forward. This causes a violent forward bending motion in the cervical spine. The force involved in this phase, if severe enough can damage the discs, ligaments, and muscle causing sever spinal misalignment. It is also during this phase where spinal nerve roots and the spinal cord can be stretched and irritated beyond the normal capacity which leads to nerve injury. Also, the extreme force can cause concussion, as the head is forced against the cranium causing brain injury. During this phase if the occupant is not restrained properly they may strike their head on the steering wheel or window which creates a new set of destructive forces.
Injuries resulting from whiplash can vary depending on sex, age, weight, and direction of impact. Some of the most common symptoms that result from a whiplash injury are:
Neck pain and stiffness
Low Back Pain
Arm and Shoulder Pain
By far and away neck pain is the most common symptom following whiplash injury. Whiplash can injure many of the structures in the neck. Most common injuries are associated with soft tissue damage to the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. However, the joints in the neck can also be damaged and facet syndrome is a common occurrence following motor vehicle accidents.
Disc injury is another common occurrence. The outer margin of the disc called the annulus is a fibrous ligamentous structure that can tear during the shearing forces of whiplash. Commonly, neck pain is associated with disc injury. Over time this injury can lead to chronic degenerative changes in the spine and eventually if severe enough can lead to surgery. If the disc bulge becomes significant enough it can impact the spinal cord and or spinal nerve leading to radiating arm pain, shoulder pain and neck pain. Also, the person can experience weakness in either arm depending on which spinal nerve is affected.
Headaches are the second most common complaint following whiplash. About 80 percent of people suffering from whiplash injury complain about headaches. While concussion and brain injury can account for headaches the majority of headaches following whiplash injury are caused by ligament and cervical spine joint injury. These types of injuries respond well to Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic.
TMJ can result from several mechanisms. It can be direct injury to the joint caused by injury to the jaw from impact or can be the result of muscle imbalances in the mastication muscles that are secondary to neck injury. TMJ can be painful and also can respond well to upper cervical spine corrections following whiplash injury.
Dizziness following a whiplash injury usually results from injury to the facet joints of the cervical spine. There are direct pathways from the joints in the neck which when not working properly can have negative effects on the pathways in the body that control the balance centers in the back part of the brain and inner ear. Vertigo responds well to Blair upper Cervical Chiropractic Care.
Low back pain
Low back pain following whiplash can have several mechanisms. It can be direct injury to the low back itself or it can be coming from upper cervical spine injury. The low back muscle tone is controlled in the upper neck. Therefore, a large part of low back pain is the result of neck injury.
Blair Upper Cervical chiropractors run objective neurological tests to determine whether cord irritation exists in the upper cervical spine. Once it is determined that there is a problem affecting the brain stem precise articular(joint) X-rays are taken to determine exactly what direction the misalignment has displaced. Angles are then measured off the problem joints and a precision spinal correction is made. No cracking, popping, or pulling of the neck is done during the correction. It is precise, gentle, and painless. Following the spinal correction, the patient rests in a " recuperation " room to allow the body to relax and " regain" control of its proper spinal position. Follow up care is necessary to ensure progress is accruing. Each visit objective tests are done to determine whether another spinal correction is necessary or not. Overtime as the adjustment holds healing occurs throughout the body. Our adage in upper cervical circles is, " nature needs no help just no interference"
To learn more about the Blair Upper Cervical Procedure in our office click here.