The Whiplash - What is it?

The Whiplash – What is it?

The Whiplash – What is it?

Whiplash is common in car crashes. But is it real? In the past, it was not possible to “prove” whiplash. That left some badly injured people unable to get fair compensation for their pain.

Here’s a post from a forum that highlights a common occurrence in car crash cases, followed by my answer.

Question: Hi, does anyone know the basic compensation for whiplash? My hubby and I got hit from behind not so long ago; we were just ready to pull off when a car smacked into us doing roughly 25 mph.

I went to the hospital just after the accident as I had a burning sensation in my neck but was told it was a normal whiplash injury. We have been to see the medical examiner this week, and he said it would be roughly 6-9 months before we will be fully recovered.

I still have neck ache and get more headaches than usual and was just wondering if anyone else on here has been in the same situation?

Answer: Whiplash is defined in the Mosby Medical Encylopedia as “an injury to the neck vertebrae or their supporting ligaments and muscles. There are pain and stiffness. It usually results from sudden speeding or slowing down, as in a rear-end collision that causes a violent back and forth movement of the head and neck.”

Injuries from whiplash can range from minor sprains that heal quickly to severe spine damage that results in death. So there is no “basic compensation” for whiplash.

Sometimes the supporting ligaments and muscles do not heal quickly. There can be a great deal of pain. This is unfortunate because damage to ligaments and muscles does not show up on ordinary x-rays.

To get fair compensation for whiplash you need to be able to prove it in an objective fashion. Finders of fact like juries and arbitrators are not sympathetic to mere complaints of pain. They need to see it.

There are several methods of “showing” whiplash injury.


Thermography is a method for sensing and recording on film hot and cold areas of the body using an infrared detector that reacts to blood flow. Thermography pictures often show whiplash type damage to muscles and ligaments as areas of “hyperthermia”–a much higher than normal body temperature.

To find a thermography clinic in your area go to the website of the American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT) at

Here you will find a list of ACCT approved thermography clinics.

If you don’t find one listed for your state try a Google search.

Flexion-Extension Study

While an ordinary set of x-rays won’t show whiplash, there is a unique set that will. This three-view study of the neck is taken from the side while the head is forward (flexion), straight up, and backward (extension). The forward and back views are then compared. Excessive movement (known as “translation”) is measured and if more than .35 millimeters the finding is considered abnormal.

Under the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), this condition qualifies for a very large impairment rating.

For case workup purposes it is best if the x-rays are taken under the supervision of and read by a Board Certified radiologist medical doctor who has experience reading this type of x-ray.

Special software has been developed to “read” these x-rays. Reports based on this software have been very persuasive with fact-finders such as mediators and arbitrators as they take the human element out of the diagnosis.

Finding an expert in this type of test is a little more difficult. You may need to do a little research to find one in your area.

Ligaments like this exist in the neck to prevent excessive motion of the cervical spine. These ligaments are crucial in the neck to hold the vertebrae together and prevent instability of the joints. These ligaments are vulnerable to injury in a car accident doctor.

X-rays can also detect ligament damage and are far less expensive than an MRI. Extension and flexion x-rays are the common x-rays utilized to diagnose ligament instability inside the neck. The x-rays are taken as the patient bends their head forward and back. The x-rays show if there is the excessive movement of the vertebrae which signifies there is harm to the ligaments.

Chiropractors are a good option for treatment of whiplash injuries.Southern Nevada Chiropractic is trained to perform a detailed history and exam to determine the extent of the problem and the best treatment for the injury.Car accident chiropractor adjustments help to correct misaligned bones and mobilize fixated segments that may be overloading the area of instability in the neck. They also perform therapy modalities to help heal muscles and injured soft tissue. They can also recommend particular posture training and exercises to help heal the area injured through car accident treatment.

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Dr Michael Reiss DC is the owner and operator of Las Vegas Car Accident Treatment Centers in Las Vegas, Nevada. To learn more about him, check his site at Las Vegas Car Accident Centers
Meet Josh

 Josh RiggsMy girlfriend Jamie and I first came into see Dr. Reiss because we were involved in a car accident. I really liked the ease of appointments and how accommodating to my schedule Dr Reiss’ office was. They did only what was needed to be done to help me get back to myself (actually better than myself), without excessive treatment. Dr. Reiss’ was the only office that would take Jamie and I without making us pay money for treatment upfront. Makes you trust your chiropractor more knowing he can trust you.

And of course most importantly Dr. Reiss fixed my back! Oh and to top it off, they had freshly baked cookies every day.
-Josh R., Hard Rock Hotel

Meet Andrea

 I was referred to Dr. Reiss by a co-worker of mine after I was in an automobile accident. I was starting to have a lot of back pain and headaches, so I called the day after the accident and they were able to get me in the SAME DAY to see the doctor! It only took a month of treatment to get me out of pain. It is now two months later and I am still completely PAIN FREE! Thank you so much Dr. Reiss! You are awesome!

-Andrea Helmrath, Red Rock Golf Course


Meet Rudy

 I was involved in a car accident on the freeway by a car going very fast. I was in a lot of pain, and could barely walk or get comfortable to sleep. I tried taking Ibuprofen, but it really wasn’t working and I don’t really like taking pills anyway. I felt like I needed help, so I consulted with an attorney. The attorney’s office recommended to a Chiropractor’s office that I found to be a bit dirty, run down and not very friendly. Needless to say, I never even filled out the paperwork.

One of my friends suggested I see Dr. Reiss. Right when I walked in, I knew I was in the right place. I am in the VIP hosting business, and my job is to bring people to some of the classiest places in Las Vegas. Dr. Reiss’ office was one of the nicest doctor’s offices I had ever been to. From the art on the walls and the Starbucks-like atmosphere…to being offered a gourmet iced tea while I filled out my forms.

After my first visit, I started to feel relief from my injuries, and I kept getting better and better. The personal attention I received from the staff made my visits very comfortable. I would recommend his office to anyone…(even that attorney’s office may have happier clients if they sent them to Dr. Reiss.)
-Rudy J., VIP Host


Meet Savannah

 My boyfriend and I were in a car accident where we were hit by a drunk driver. I felt OK the first day… but by the second day I couldn’t walk or lay down on my own.

I was very irritable and couldn’t believe that this happened to me and I didn’t know what to do about it. Walking, lying down, sitting and even driving were difficult to do on my own. I also had trouble sleeping because I was in pain and couldn’t get comfortable. I was taking sleeping pills and pain pills to get me through the day and night.

Since I have been seeing Dr. Reiss I can now walk, sleep and do simple everyday things on my own again. I know I wouldn’t feel as great as I do… if it wasn’t for Dr. Reiss and his team. Thanks for the caring and loving help. You guys rock!

-Savannah K.

Meet Lora

 I was in a car accident back in January where I was hit by a drunk driver. Fortunately my injuries were not too serious; however, I suffered neck & back pain, which then re-inflamed a former injury. The injury prevented me from working for few days, & I couldn’t work out & I was concerned I was going to have to get a Cortisone shot because the pain was so bad.

Dr. Reiss’s office was the first place I went. I had been to another Chiropractor before my accident, but I felt she was too aggressive with her treatment. Dr. Reiss was very gentle & a good listener when I told him of my injuries. I was using an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory at the time but I no longer needed to take them after seeing Dr. Reiss. He had suggestions for total health… I started a rehab stretching routine & am now able to do weights at the gym. Thanks a million, Dr. Reiss!
-Lora H.

Meet Kris

 I was in a rear end car accident that left me with pain throughout my back, mostly in the lower region. I wasn’t sure about chiropractic care until I met Dr. Reiss and noticed his friendly attitude and attention to the body. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t stand up strait. It took me out of my sport because the overall pain was too much. Normal every day life became a challenge.

Even though I was in a lot of pain I knew that I did not want to take prescription drugs, and Dr. Reiss helped me feel better. Once I healed from this accident, I was involved in another collision and had to go through the process all over again!

Since I have been seeing Dr. Reiss through both of my accidents, I feel much more in tune with myself then I have ever been, allowing me to focus better on goals I’ve set for myself. I have more energy and a willingness to keep myself in stronger shape. Now when my days off come I’m motivated to do more, rather then sit around when I was in pain.
-Kris W., Canyon Ranch Spa

Meet Beverly

 I experienced muscle tension and pain (tingling sensation) from my neck to my lower back, as a result from a traffic accident in August 2008. The pain caused me to be irritable and keep me restless at night. The pain and tension prevented me from sleeping comfortably. It also made me uncomfortable especially during long car rides. I tried having massages and tried using a neck massage heat therapy pillow. Nothing worked.

Because of my fear of doctors, I was reluctant to seek treatment until the pain increased. But once I started treatment, I overcame my fear due to the kindness and hospitality of Chiropractic Wellness Center and their staff. The pain and tension slowly but surely disappeared and he helped me maintain more comfort in my daily activities. In addition, Dr. Reiss and his staff (Ms. Lori and Ms. Theresa) were so pleasant and accommodating to me and my son. Being family-oriented and kid friendly was a huge factor in choosing to seek treatment at this facility.
– Beverly M.

Meet Theresa

 I was in a car accident back in July of 2007. For two weeks my back and neck were so stiff that I could not turn my head. Getting up and down from the couch, office chair, and bed were difficult and painful. The pain was so bad that it started affecting my family. I couldn’t play with my son and I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was taking Motrin every day to help alleviate some of the pain.

Since I have been seeing Dr. Reiss, I no longer have chronic pain or stiffness and I haven’t taken any Motrin. Dr. Reiss motivated me to start exercising again and I am now happier & more relaxed. I’ve received a lot of feedback from my co-workers saying that I am always happy and smiling. Although these results are all life changing, the best result I have experienced is that I can play with my son without pain… I now swim with him almost every day instead of just watching him! Thanks a million, Dr. Reiss!
-Teresa S.

Meet Jeff

 I came to see Dr. Reiss because I had a broken clavicle and torn rotator cuff from an accident I was in. I was in pain all the time, could not sleep at night and was thinking the pain would never go away. I had been taking Lortab 8 times a day before I saw Dr. Reiss.

With him and the help of chiropractic care and the therapies in the office I was able to cut the drug use in half and feel much better. Dr. Reiss helped me to understand what I was in store for ie: surgery and a long physical theMarcorapy. He was supportive through all that I went through. I cannot thank him enough.

-Jeff S., Dragonridge Country Club

Meet Marco

 I came into Dr. Reiss’s office seeking for help after being in a 3 car accident. A few days after the accident, I started feeling horrible pain in my lower back and pain in my neck. I figured it was going to go away after a few days but I was wrong.

After starting care with Dr. Reiss, my pain started dissipating and I started going back to my daily activities, going to the gym, etc. and my energy level was higher.

Dr. Reiss himself made me feel very comfortable and he explained everything that was going on with my body after the accident, as well as what to expect a few weeks after. The whole team is excellent and very professional, and made the visits extremely pleasant. I would definitely recommend family and friends to come here if they were in an accident.

-Marco S., Dental Surgery Tech

Meet Sofiya

 After my car accident I needed to see a doctor as soon as possible. The crash was so bad that my left shoulder was too painful to move freely. I could not rotate my neck and my back felt out of whack.

As a professional salsa dancer I was worried that I would not be able to recover in time for my performance. I refused to turn to drugs to ease the pain, but it was difficult to move and to fall asleep.

Immediately after my 1st visit with Dr. Reiss, I could move my body more naturally. It felt like a weight was literally lifted off my shoulders. Dr. Reiss proved to me how much he cares for his patients, and made me feel like I was in good hands. Within two weeks I made a 50% improvement and could go back to rehearsals. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the services and care provided.
-Sofiya K., Professional Salsa Dancer

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