Health Update: Whiplash
What Happens in “Whiplash?”
Whiplash is a slang term for an injury that occurs to the neck after the head has been literally “whipped” either forwards and backwards or sideways after a sudden jar. Therefore, this can occur from a slip / trip and fall, a bar room brawl, as well as from the classic car accident or motor vehicle collision. But what REALLY happens in a “whiplash” injury? To answer this, let’s talk about: 1. The mechanism of injury; 2. The different types of injuries; and 3. The treatment options.
1. The Mechanism of injury: Let’s take the example of a rear-end crash from a motor vehicle collision (MVC). In this scenario, the “target” vehicle is struck from behind by the “bullet” vehicle propelling it forwards.
|The neck/spine straightens: At about 75-100 msec. (that’s milliseconds!), the car is propelled forward but you – the driver remains stationary so the car seat pushes your body forward but your neck/head stay behind. This creates the classic “S-shaped curve” in your spine.|
|The neck/spine curves back: At about 150 msec., the head extends back and “hopefully” hits a properly positioned headrest or else it keeps going back injuring the spinal structures in the front of the spine. If the head extends back too far, back of the spine injuries then occur.|
|The neck/spine curves back to a maximum: At about 175 msec., the tissues in the back of the spine compress while those in front of the spine fully stretched and act like rubber bands getting ready to spring the head/neck forwards (phase 4).|
|Rebound: At about 200-300 msec., the tissues in the front of the neck propel the head/neck forwards and injury can occur to the structures in the back of the spine from over stretching or, in the front of the spine from over compression.|
All of this occurs in LESS TIME than what we can NORMALLY voluntarily contract a muscle, which takes about 500 msec., so even when we anticipate the impending crash and we brace ourselves, we can’t really stop our neck from going through these movements.
2. Types of injuries: The term “sprain” refers to ligament (tough non-elastic tissue that holds bone to bone) injury and “strain” muscle/tendon (elastic tissues that move our bones) injury. There are 3 grades of sprain & strains (mild, moderate, and severe). When these tissues are injured, there is usually a loss of movement and neck pain but not arm numbness or pain. When there is nerve injury, there is arm pain, numbness &/or weakness and generally, this is more serious but usually manageable without the need for surgery. When fractures occur, it’s either stable or unstable and may require surgery &/or a rigid collar.
3. Treatment: Most whiplash injuries are safely managed by chiropractic approaches (fractures are the exception). Studies have shown that early movement results in a better result than wearing a collar or, not allowing movement. Therefore, gentle mobilization and manipulation approaches “…as soon as tolerated” favor a better outcome or result. There are many different techniques we use to help speed up the recovery process. Prompt treatment is important!
We hope this information is appreciated! We realize that you have a choice in where you chose to go for your Las Vegas Car Accident Treatment. We truly appreciate your consideration in allowing us to help you through this potentially painful recovery process.
YOU MAY BE A CANDIDATE FOR CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR WHIPLASH!
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