Whiplash is a relatively common injury that occurs to a person’s neck following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force, most commonly from motor vehicle accidents. The term “whiplash” was first used in 1928. The term “railway spine” was used to describe a similar condition that was common in persons involved in train accidents prior to 1928. The term “whiplash injury” describes damage to both the bone/joint and its supporting tissues (ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves), while “whiplash associated disorders” describes a more severe and chronic condition.
Causes of Whiplash
- Whiplash is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident in which the car suddenly accelerates and decelerates, or vice versa. and is struck by a vehicle from behind without notice. Example: a vehicle stopped at a traffic light that is suddenly rear-ended from behind.
- It is a fact the rear impact causes the head and neck to be forced into hyperextension as the seat pushes the person’s torso forward – and the unrestrained head and neck fall backwards. After a short delay the head and neck then recover and are thrown into a hyperflexed position.
- After the rear impact the lower cervical vertebrae (lower bones in the neck) are forced into a position of hyperextension while the upper cervical vertebrae (upper bones in the neck) are in a hyperflexed position.
- This leads to an abnormal S-shape in the cervical spine after the rear impact that is different from the normal motion is caused by trauma and ligamentous injury causing joint instability. This abnormal motion causes damage to the soft tissues that hold the cervical vertebrae together (ligaments, facet , capsules, muscles, tendons, and discs).
- Neck pain, stiffness and headaches
- Shoulder pain and stiffness,
- Jaw pain (temporomandibular joint symptoms)
- Arm pain and weakness
- Visual disturbances
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and
- Back pain
If you are suffering from whiplash, you should seek care quickly. The sooner one receives care, the quicker the relief and better the results, with less chance of future flare-ups.
In our office we focus on quality care and customize each treatment to reach the following outcome:
- Reduce pain
- Correct/resolve the injury and introduce normal function in the musculoskeletal unit injured.
- Educate and implement rehabilitative stretches and exercises to prevent future flare-ups.