Have you ever been hit from behind in a motor vehicle accident and noticed pain and stiffness in your neck after a wreck? Simply called whiplash, Smart Pain Solutions has chiropractors who treat whiplash in Clayton and Bridgeton of St. Louis. The injury may lead to a variety of ailments including muscle spasms, shoulder pain, disc herniations, headaches, dizziness, nerve irritation, and even weakness, numbness, or tingling sensations down the arm. This blog for August discusses a bundle of important nerves found within the neck called the Brachial Plexus. It’s a focal point for chiropractors in treating upper extremity injuries and related conditions. Our blog this month will explore the basics of the brachial plexus, review whiplash, and discuss how Smart Pain Solutions can help alleviate neck & shoulder pain associated with this interconnected phenomena.
What’s the Brachial Plexus and why is associated with whiplash? Our central nervous system is one of the most intricate structures in the body. Within the nervous system lies a separate set of nerves called the Brachial Plexus. This essential network begins in your neck and supplies motor & sensory communications to our upper limbs. It’s a crucial component to skin sensations & active motion. Unfortunately, it can be susceptible to neck & shoulder injury, especially in cases of whiplash. Chiropractic offers a natural and effective approach to treating brachial plexus related injuries.
Brachial Plexus Breakdown
The brachial plexus is host to 5 primary nerve roots in your entire upper limb. These nerves run from the 5th vertebrae of your neck to the first thoracic vertebrae of your mid back. Spinal nerve roots C5-T1 branch out to form several divisions, cords, and branches. Each part of the plexus serves specific regions of the upper limb, allowing for a diverse range of movements and sensations to the body. In addition to this, If you are intrigued to continue learning, check out Physiopedia’s link for more on this incredibly complex network!
Whiplash: An Overview
Whiplash is a common injury typically associated with motor vehicle accidents, especially rear-end collisions. The injury occurs when an abrupt and forceful motion of the head takes place. This places stress on our muscles, ligaments, and joints of the neck. The sudden movement can even overstretch or tear the brachial plexus nerves. Excessive stretching on the nerves leads to pain and dysfunction. Sometimes these whiplash related injuries are also called “Stinger’s,” due to the nature of sudden compression on the nerves. These are frequently seen with contact sports like hockey & football. At Smart Pain Solutions we have developed a list below of some of the most common complaints we treat when helping a patient who suffered a whiplash or brachial plexus injury.
Treatable Signs & Symptoms
Neck pain & stiffness: The most immediate and noticeable symptom of whiplash is neck pain and stiffness. The abrupt movement of the head strains the neck muscles and fascia, causing discomfort and reduced range of motion within the cervical spine
Shoulder pain: Pain and tenderness in the shoulder region may occur due to the involvement of the brachial plexus and associated nerves within the shoulder. The shoulder pain may also refer to areas of the upper back.
Muscle weakness: Depending on the severity of the brachial plexus injury, weakness may be experienced in the affected arm. This weakness can range from mild to severe, sometimes causing difficulties in performing routine daily tasks.
Numbness & tingling: Damage to the brachial plexus can lead to sensations of numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” down the arm. This is due to the disrupted nerve signals between the skin and muscles of the impacted limb. Individuals may experience altered sensations, such as hypersensitivity or reduced sensitivity to touch, temperature, or pressure in the affected arm
Radiating pain: Pain from the neck may radiate down the arm and even into the fingers. This is referred to as radicular pain and occurs when the injured nerves transmit pain signals along their path. Pain is typically described as the “pins & needles” feeling down into the fingers.
- Eventual Muscle Atrophy: In severe cases, where nerve damage has occurred, muscle wasting or muscle atrophy results. The affected muscles lose their bulk and strength due to the lack of neural stimulation. If you visit the OrthoInfo page, they cover treatment interventions that may be utilized in severe brachial plexus injury cases.
Treating “Stingers” or “Burners”
How do chiropractors treat whiplash & Brachial plexus injuries? If you’ve experienced any of these whiplash signs and symptoms, chiropractic can help aid in the recovery of these head & neck injuries! Appropriate treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery and prevent further complications. Smart Pain Solutions pain management plans can use a variety of chiropractic techniques suited to your individual needs. These may include;
Soft tissue massage, stretching & muscle rehabilitation
Electrical muscle stimulation to help re-educate damaged muscle nerve fibers.
Our neck is susceptible to whiplash injury, especially in cases of high motion impact. Car accidents and contact sports injuries are more commonly involved. The brachial plexus, a vital and delicate network of nerves within or neck, becomes extremely vulnerable to injury during these high impact incidents due to the sudden and forceful movements that can strain, compress, or stretch the nerves. However, sleeping in an awkward position or sitting for too long at work may also cause disruptions and potential nerve damage.
We want to help with recovery and returning to normal arm function and overall well-being! Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with our doctors for a smart pain management plan! If you would like to set up a new appointment, please call us at 314-298-1400. You can also text us to schedule an appointment at 314-274-9422.
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