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Whiplash

Whiplash is most commonly received while riding in a car that is struck from the front, back or side. It also occurs from sports injuries, slips and falls or unexpected, rapid motions of the neck.

When the head is suddenly jerked either forward and back, back and forward or side to side, the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues supporting the spine and head can be overstretched or torn.

The soft, pulpy discs’ between spinal bones can bulge, tear or rupture. Vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position, reducing range of motion. The spinal cord and nerve roots in the neck can get stretched and irritated.

The resulting instability of the spine and soft: tissues can result in headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, pain in the shoulder, arms and hands, reduced ability to turn and bend, and even low back problems. As the body attempts to adapt, symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months.

Chiropractic Approach

The chiropractic approach to these types of injuries is to use specific chiropractic adjustments to help return normal spinal function. After a thorough case history and examination, the doctor will recommend a series of visits to help restore proper motion and position of the spinal bones. If caught early enough, inflammation can be reduced and scar tissue can often be minimized.

Common Whiplash Symptoms:

• Headaches
• Neck Pain and Stiffness
• Inability to Turn Neck Fully
• Pain Radiating into the Shoulder Area
• Numbness in Arms
• Numbness in Fingers
• Dizziness
• Low or Mid Back Pain
• Blurred Vision
• Pain in lower Face
• Nausea
• Ringing in the Ears
• Difficulty Swallowing

Before, During and After a Whiplash Accident

Drive a Safe Car
Small cars put you at greater risk so, before you buy your next car, note the vehicle size and weight. Also take note of the restraint systems including the seatbelts, airbags and head restraints.

Adjust Head Restraints
Research shows that having no head restraint is safer than having one in the low position, which is where 80% of cars currently have them positioned. In addition, restraints are commonly designed to fit the average sized person so they may not work well for very tall or short people. If this is a problem for you, consider add-on head restraints.

Prepare for Crash

If you have time to prepare before impact:

• Put your head and neck all the way back so that you’re in contact with the seat back
• Straight-arm the steering wheel and get a good grip
• Look straight ahead so your neck is not turned
• Scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears and brace yourself.
• Call your chiropractor for an evaluation immediately.

Do What the Doctor Orders
Ice your neck or low back, drink more water, good nutrition, soft collars for support if needed the first few days, adjusted work stations, tissue work in the early stages-do whatever the doctor prescribes to prevent injuries from becoming chronic.

Think Ergonomically
Avoid positions that hurt, sleep on your side or back with a pillow between or under your knees. While at work, there are everyday factors that can hasten healing. Use chairs with armrests to support the weight of the arms as if suspended from the shoulders. Patients who begin treatment thirty or more days after an accident can take up to three times longer to fully recover from a whiplash injury than those who begin treatment immediately.

Consult a Doctor of Chiropractic before enduring constant headaches, becoming dependent upon addictive pain medication, or submitting to needless surgery.

Whiplash Backlash

It is estimated that:
• Two out of every five driving-aged people will be in a car accident each year.
• Of the six million injuries per year due to motor vehicle crashes, about three million are whiplash type injuries. Of those, 500,000 to 900,000 will develop chronic pain.
• Eighty percent of cars have the head restraint adjusted in the low position, yet research shows that having no head restraint is safer than having one in the low position.
• Although the United States spends as much as $23 billion each year to treat whiplash, many lawyers, legislators, and medical doCtors deny its existence.
• A series of studies have shown that the threshold for cervical spine soft tissue injury is less than five mph.
• Once thought to suggest minimal injury, a delay in onset of symptoms has been shown to be the norm, rather than the exception.

Seek Treatment

Your chiropractor can effectively evaluate all the tissues that are at risk in a whiplash type of injury including: bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments discs, blood supply and lymph supply.

Did you know..?

We spend 34 hours per year in traffic jams.

If you like this article be sure to visit the Spinal Centre website at www.thespinalcentre.com.au and view more content by Dr. Hooper and the Spinal Rehabilitation Team.

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