The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash is a common condition seen in our office and can vary from very minor injuries that last a few short weeks to much more serious conditions that can leave residual dysfunction or pain for many years.
Whiplash is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident in which the person is in a car that is not moving, and is struck by another vehicle from behind. Other causes of whiplash include sports collisions like in football hockey or lacrosse or physical abuse such as a punch to the head and neck region. The vast majority of whiplash injuries are a result of rear end collisions. It is commonly thought the rear impact causes the head and neck to be forced into hyperextension (backward) as the seat pushes the person's torso forward - and the unrestrained head and neck fall backwards. After a short delay the head and neck then recover and are thrown into a hyperflexion (forward). More recent studies investigating high-speed cameras and sophisticated crash dummies have determined that after the rear impact the lower cervical vertebrae (lower bones in the neck) are forced into a position of hyperextension while the upper cervical vertebrae (upper bones in the neck) are in a hyperflexed position. This leads to an abnormal S-shape in the cervical spine after the rear impact that is different from the normal motion. It is thought that this abnormal motion causes damage to the soft tissues that hold the cervical vertebrae together (ligaments, facet capsules, muscles).
Signs and symptoms of whiplash will usually develop within 24 hours of the injury but sometimes symptoms will be delayed for several days and even up to a couple of weeks.
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Worsening of pain with neck movement
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
When to see a Doctor:
If you suspect you may have had whiplash and are experiencing any of the above symptoms it is recommended to see a Doctor. While minor cases of whiplash can resolve with rest it is better to be evaluated to determine if further damage has been done that can lead to longer term or permanent damage. When seeking a Dr. look for one that has experience working with whiplash injuries. Imaging included X-rays, CT scans, or MRI’s depending on symptoms are recommended to help determine extent of injuries.
Treatment of Whiplash:
In our office we take pride of being the premier chiropractic office in Woodstock and the surrounding areas for treating Whiplash. We have a combined 3 decades of experience in treating whiplash and have the capability to evaluate injuries with state of the art digital X-rays and dynamic range of motion testing using the Dynarom device. Once proper diagnosis is made we offer a variety of different services such as Chiropractic adjustments, traction, muscle strengthening exercises, electric stimulation, ultrasound and laser therapy all designed to help our patients heal quickly and leave long lasting results. Should injuries severe enough that a referral is needed we work alongside many experts from other disciplines such as neurologist, orthopedist, physiatrist, pain management specialist and physical therapists in the area to provide the most thorough and complete care to our patients.