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While an automobile is built to take a slow 8 to 10 mph low
impact crash that is not necessarily true for your body. The
most common injury suffered in a low impact rear-end car accident
collision is a whiplash injury. It is a soft tissue injury
caused by rapid acceleration or deceleration resulting in a
snapping of the neck back and
forth and this in turn causes the spine to travel beyond its
normal limits. The muscles and ligaments supporting the
spine may then become
and the spinal discs may bulge, tear or rupture. The nerve
roots in the neck can get stretched and irritated.
General Motors (GM) did a study regarding crashes at speeds
below 8 mph. GM found, to no surprise, that injuries do
occur at such low speeds. The study also showed that
whiplash injuries account for more than half of all injuries
connected to vehicular accidents.
There may have been only slight damage
to the car due to advances car manufacturers have made in
the construction of their vehicles, but the occupant may nevertheless have suffered extensive damage.
You see, when a collision occurs
the force of the accident pushes inertia somewhere and once the
automobile has taken part of that energy away, the occupants
takes the rest. These inertia forces are what can cause people
bodily harm and soft tissue injuries even in a crash of below 10
mph. If left untreated,
the formation of scar tissue can leave the victim with impaired
bodily function for life. Whiplash and soft tissue injuries are most effectively treated by Chiropractors.
An article published in the Journal of
Orthopedic Medicine in 1999 pointed out the
superiority of chiropractic care for patients suffering from
long term whiplash. The authors of the article noted that a
previous study had shown that 26 of 28 patients, or 93
percent of patients with chronic whiplash became better with
chiropractic care. The author went on to state that
“chiropractic is the only proven effective treatment for
Symptoms of a whiplash injury are not always apparent at the time of the accident.
The injury is characterized by an assortment of symptoms
that show up after the incident that caused harm to the
neck. The most common whiplash symptoms occur in the days following (usually within 24-48 hours).
For others, it may take weeks or months
AFTER the accident to experience symptoms.
This is due to the stretching and tearing of your muscles and ligaments
and inflammation sets in causing pain and stiffness.
Most people can recover with minimum problems in a short
period or time while a few develop persistent pain and
chronic conditions. The symptoms of whiplash that can appear
immediately or show up several days or weeks later include:
- Neck pain and stiffness - Dizziness
- Ringing in the ears or blurred vision - Headaches
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering - Muscle spasm or weakness
- Irritability, fatigue - Anxiety
- Shoulder/arm pain - Hip pain/leg pain
- Low back pain and stiffness - Sleep disturbances
- Tingling or numbness in the arm/hand/fingers - Tingling or numbness in the
The prognosis for those affected
with whiplash injuries is generally good. For the majority of people
who suffer from this ailment the head and neck pain clears
up within a few days or even weeks. Inside of three months,
they are likely to recover from the injury; however, a
certain percentage continues to have residual headaches or
neck pain. For a small minority though the injuries continue
to persist. This is more likely for those with the more
severe symptoms from the onset. For these few individuals
whiplash can even become a permanent disability.
Videos on Whiplash Injuries
An entire whiplash injury occurs in about 1/10th of a second — the length of an eye blink. But in that time, the human head can experience forces greater than that of jet fighter pilots.
Click here to watch our library of videos on whiplash, including live crash test footage!
The Anatomy of Whiplash Injuries
Automobile crashes can cause injury to the ligaments, joints, nerves, and blood vessels of the neck.
to read the latest science on these kinds of injuries.
Risk Factors for Whiplash
Whiplash injuries have a very unique kind of mechanism.
of articles discusses the specifics of the biomechanics of auto injuries and who is at risk of developing long-term problems.
| Effects of Whiplash on the Neck
Near Normal Neck Curve
This is a side x-ray view of the neck. As with all the pictures you will see on this page, the patient is looking to the right of the screen, so you are viewing the right side of their neck. We will call this picture a "near normal" spine. Compare this spine with the ones you will see below on this page.
Notice the normal forward curve of the neck. This curve helps absorb shock. Notice how each of the disc spaces between C2 (second bone in neck) and C7 are thick and even, this again is normal. Also notice how the front portions (right side on the x-ray) of each of the vertebrae (called the 'body' of the vertebrae) are fairly square with clear and well defined borders. This type of arrangement is normal in the neck.
Whiplash typically results in a loss or change in the normal curve in the spine due to severe muscle spasm or tightness following an accident. On this example you can see that the normal forward (lordotic) curve is lost. This spine even has developed a reverse curve in the neck. The disc spaces have also begun to exhibit a slight change in shape.
One good point is that the bodies of each of the vertebrae (the square part in front) still exhibits clean clear borders. Segmental motion may be abnormal but overall motion is probably not affected. A moderate number of people will not notice pain in this phase. Therefore, if left untreated, it will continue to progress with time until it eventually reaches the next phase.
Arthritis in the Neck
As previously mentioned the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine and may then become torn, and the spinal discs may bulge, tear, or rupture. The nerve roots in the neck can get stretched and irritated. Few people realize that if left untreated, the formation of scar tissue can result in chronic pain and even lead to early degenerative changes in the spine – ARTHRITIS!
Here you can see that the curvatures are abnormal, the disc spaces are vastly decreased and changed. Calcium changes on the spine are abundant in this phase. Normally, people in this phase have a restricted range of motion and probably exhibit symptoms of some kind. In phase three, the vertebrae show obvious changes and mutations in shape. Projections made of calcium, sometimes referred to as "spurs or lipping", can be readily seen on x-ray.
If you experience the symptoms
of whiplash after a car
collision, seek Chiropractic
care. Traditional medical
treatment prescribed by your PCP
or ER doctor can vary depending
on your attending physician. If
you are found to have a slight
case of whiplash, your treatment
might include nothing more than
Tylenol and application of heat
or ice to the sore spots
followed by gentle movement of
the affected area. The usual
treatments beyond this include
pain medication, muscle
drugs, and/or anti-depressants
which usually offer little to no
relief from symptoms and will
not heal your soft tissue
combined with physical medicine
modality procedures (e.g. muscle
stimulation, ultrasound, laser
therapy, interferential and
stretching and strengthening
exercises) , massage therapy,
manual therapies ( e.g.
myofascial release, accupressure
and trigger point therapy) and/or
are the most effective in
healing soft tissue whiplash
Even if you are not currently in pain, there nevertheless may be underlying and hidden damage to your spinal column, which may not manifest itself as a serious impairment of bodily function for months or even years. A visit to
the Alexandria-Arlington VA
Chiropractors office at
Jefferson Spine & Injury
Center may end up saving you years of grief and unrelenting pain. Insurance companies realize the many advantages of chiropractic care
More] and your treatment is fully covered under the
Medical Expense Payment Benefit
/ "Med-Pay" and/or Personal Injury Protection
/ "PIP" portion of your auto insurance policy
You have chiropractic coverage no matter who is at fault, and no matter whether you were the driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. Rest assure,
If You Have a
"CLAIM NUMBER" - I'm Your Doctor!
We will submit the necessary insurance paper work and file it with the appropriate insurance company so you can concentrate on healing
from your injuries.
if you or someone you know has been injured or think you maybe injured as a result of an auto accident, Dr.
Leslie Holcombe-Michels is trained in detection, treatment and documentation of soft tissue injuries
to the neck and low back resulting from auto accidents (click here to learn more about Dr. Holcombe). Since 1999, Dr. Holcombe has dedicated her practice to helping people, like yourself, and has literally treated thousands of area residents with underlying nerve and musculoskeletal injuries resulting from auto accident
injuries. She’s here to help you too!
Rest assure, if your injuries require treatment other than
Chiropractic and Physical Therapy, Dr.
Holcombe will refer you to other qualified health professionals for complete coordination of care.
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DISCLAIMER: No individuals, including those under our active care, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnose or self-treat any health-related condition. Diagnosis and treatment of all health conditions should only be performed by your doctor of chiropractic or other licensed health care professional.