What you need to know if you have suffered a whiplash injury so that you do not get hurt twice.
What do I mean by this?
What I mean is if you don’t treat your whiplash in a timely fashion or treat it properly, you most likely will have a life-long permanent injury.
In other words, you will be hurt now & hurt later.
And, I will say this right here & right now.
Do not think that just because there was no damage to your car or to the other car or you did not feel any pain immediately afterwards, that you did not suffer any physical damage.
Some of the leading authorities on whiplash tell us that you can suffer a whiplash injury with an impact as low as 2 ½ mph!
Also, do not believe what they may tell you or don’t tell you to do in the emergency room if you end up there after an accident.
They will usually tell you that you’re ok & the pain will go away in a few days, and all you need to do is to take some pain-killers, anti-infammatory or muscle-relaxing drugs & put hot packs on the injury site.
First of all, these things will NOT repair the damaged & injured tissues, & the people giving these recommendations are not spinal experts.
This is why you should immediately consult a chiropractor; because we are the spinal experts & your best chance to heal from your injuries is with chiropractic care.
Let me explain…..
The term whiplash is most often used to describe a type of neck injury that happens when one is involved in a car accident.
Typically, the victim is usually relaxed & not expecting a collision when their vehicle is struck from behind. The rapid forward movement created by the impact creates a sudden snapping ‘backwards’ of the head. This will cause the muscles & ligaments along the front of the neck to stretch & often times tear. [ heat & medication will not fix this!]
After the initial impact, the head will re-bound forward ( chin to chest ) mostly due to the sudden deceleration of the vehicle & this will injure the muscles, ligaments & tendons along the back of the neck & down into between the shoulder blades. [heat & medication will not fix this!]
The whole sequence of the head snapping backwards & then forward is referred to as a whiplash because it is similar to the cracking of a whip.
It is vitally important for all whiplash victims to understand that the damage does not stop there.
In fact, the more serious damage is from displacement of the neck vertebrae that always happens in any whiplash injury.[heat & medication& therapy will not fix this!]
These misalignments ( called subluxations ) along with the injured muscles, ligaments & tendons and if left uncorrected, will cause a variety of health problems later on. Even when there is no immediate discomfort, most experts agree that people involved in a moving vehicle accident will suffer some degree of whiplash injury.
Remember, all it takes is 2 ½ mph. NOTE – although automobile accidents account for the majority of whiplash injuries, it is important to remember that the condition can result from other mishaps such as a bad fall or a sudden blow to the neck area. Look at the number of concussions that are occurring in sports these days. Hockey, football & soccer especially. A concussion is when the head is hit so hard, that the brain actually smashes against the inside of the skull & sustains a bruise. Remember that the function of your neck is to support and hold up your head. If the head is hit hard enough to bruise the brain, do not for one minute think that there has not been a whiplash type injury to the neck as well.
Sometimes people who become victims of whiplash are unaware of the seriousness of their injury at the time of the incident.
The whole sequence is reversed where the head snaps forwards first & then backwards with the sudden deceleration (stopping).
I call this a reverse whiplash & side-impact car accidents are the most injurious of all.
It is less natural for the neck to move from side to side (ear to shoulder ) due to the design of the spinal joints.
Side-impact whiplashes are far more damaging to the spine as the spinal joints are designed mostly for forwards & backwards movements as opposed to side to side movements.
While severe cases can be identified immediately after the accident, a less severe whiplash may take hours, weeks or even months before the symptoms are detected.
Every day, people walk away from accidents believing that they were not seriously hurt because they did not break any bones or lose any blood.
And, to make matters worse, they are often times told by emergency room physicians that the headaches & the pain & stiffness in the neck “will go away… it just takes time.”
This does not do the victim any favors in the long run.
I have seen too many seriously degenerated necks in my practice career that have resulted from whiplash injuries that were never treated properly.
First of all they were prescribed a bunch of pain medications which do not fix anything & by the time they eventually came to the chiropractor, there was permanent damage & it is was too late for them to claim for their injuries through insurance.
Sometimes, the whiplash pain that was evident at the time of injury will slowly dissipate, but the spinal misalignments are still present.
Therein lie some of the hidden dangers.
There are many reasons why a whiplash can have serious consequences.
The vertebrae in the neck are held together by ligaments, tendons & muscles which cushion & protect the spine. A sudden jolt will stretch & in severe cases tear these tissues. The cervical spine (neck) will then become unstable.
Victims have been known to experience the disturbing sensation of a “wobbly neck” soon after a whip-lash type injury.
Muscle-relaxers are often prescribed for whiplash victims & will actually worsen the instability in the neck.
The tearing of the ligaments & the physical trauma to the neck will also result in significant spinal misalignments – subluxations.
These will irritate the nerve roots that exit the spine & reach out to other parts of the body.
Subluxations will cause immediate pain & stiffness but the other associated problems may not show up right away.
These include some or all of the following: headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, head-fog, insomnia, irritability, fatigue, depression, anger, & swelling, tingling or numbness in the shoulders ,arms, hands & fingers.
Because the lower neck also supplies the nerves to the upper chest area, nerve interference here could also cause heart palpitations, anxiety & shortness of breath. And as we mentioned previously, if the subluxations are left undetected & uncorrected, this will result in arthritic & degenerative changes to the neck.
After ANY incident where you may have injured your neck (even if you are not sure because there are no immediate symptoms ), it is essential that you have an examination by someone who is specifically trained & an expert about the spine & its related structures.
Your chiropractor understands the dynamics of the whiplash injury and is highly skilled in treating such conditions.
Remember that whiplash injuries respond best when care is initiated immediately after the accident.
Prompt attention will help to avoid the many problems which are a very real possibility at a later date.
NOTE: you are entitled to a minimum of 6 wks of chiropractic treatment through your auto insurance if you have suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident. Possibly more depending on the severity of the injury. Our staff are skilled & competent at processing your claim forms in a timely fashion. And you DO NOT need a referral from a medical doctor to be able to go to a chiropractor. We are a primary health care provider and you can refer yourself. And do not wait. If you try to submit a claim a few months after the accident, it will be much more difficult to realize the benefits you are entitled to.
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