Whiplash – What Happens and How? (Part 1)

Whiplash – What Happens and How? (Part 1)

The topic of Whiplash is a serious issue. There probably is not one injury in Musculoskeletal Medicine that hasn’t been studied and researched more than this topic. This is partly due not only to the significant impact it can have on one’s life – their family, relationships, leisure time activities, and their job, but also the fact that not everyone recovers 100% from this injury. This means it can have a lasting impact on their lives and their finances with the present and ongoing cost managing this injury. This topic will cover the next three emails with three parts:

PWhiplash2art 1:  What is Whiplash? What does it feel like?
Part 2: How soon do you feel it? What are the factors that determine how bad it can be?
Part 3: How do your Diagnose it? What is the most effective Treatment?

This is the first part:

What is Whiplash and how does it happen?

A whiplash neck injury is the involuntary thrust of the head in any direction. The resulting recoil of the head and neck in the opposite direction injures the surrounding and supporting tissues. Symptoms may not start immediately. Often neck soreness may occur, then disappear and be followed later by head, neck and arm symptoms.

The most common cause of Whiplash is automobile collisions. However, a quick jerk, a violent blow to the head or chin, or any kind of fall causing sudden forceful movement of the head and neck is also common. Sports injuries involving collisions or contact such as a tricky fall in football or a wicked cross check in hockey can create a whiplash injury. Diving injuries and snowboard wipeouts frequently cause whiplash.

The forces causing whiplash may result in concussion, bruising or tearing to the soft tissues, and may produce strains, sprains, subluxations (vertebral misalignments), and dislocations. Joint injuries are common, and in severe cases, fractures may occur.

If someone suffers a whiplash injury, what symptoms could they expect to feel, and how soon will they feel them?

Patients with whiplash type injuries commonly have any of the symptoms, which is only a partial list:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Shoulder pain
  • Anxiety
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Low back pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sensation changes in their arm(s)
  • Arm pain or weakness

Pressure on the spinal nerves as they exit from between the neck vertebrae is a very common cause of many of these symptoms. This may lead to headaches upper back and arm pain, numbness, tingling and burning of the arm/hand.

Other seemingly unrelated symptoms such as:

  • Moodiness/Depression
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness t Forgetfulness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Jaw/face pain may also be related to the injury

Next Newsletter: How soon do you feel the injuries? And What factors can make the injuries worse?

Chiropractors are well- known for helping patients overcome the injuries in whiplash – and not just for the relief of pain, but for maximum restoration of lost function. If you’ve been in an accident and think you think you might have whiplash, no matter how minor, schedule a chiropractic appointment. You’ll be glad you did!

~DR. G



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