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Whiplash. What you should know.

Did you know March is “whiplash awareness month?” So what exactly is whiplash? When I ask my friends and family this question, the general feed back is “it is an injury to the neck after a rear-end car accident.” This is not far from the truth, but there is much more that should be addressed. Let’s talk about what you may not know about whiplash.

Circumstances Surrounding Whiplash

Whiplash and car accidents- It is true that whiplash can be the result of a rear-end collision. Whiplash is often called a “hyperextension/hyperflexion” or an “acceleration-deceleration” injury. What this means is when your car is hit from behind, your head is “whipped” backwards (excessive extension) at a fast speed (acceleration) and then is “whipped” forwards (excessive flexion) and stops abruptly (deceleration). Because of this aggressive mechanism, the joints, ligaments, and muscles of the neck are prone to injury.

Whiplash at low speeds- Whiplash can actually occur in low speed accidents as well. You may think “oh it’s only a fender-bender” but your neck may be telling you otherwise. In fact, whiplash injuries can occur at speeds of as low as 5 miles per hour! The damage done to the car does not always correlate with the damage done to your body! Your insurance adjuster may try to convince you of this, but that is not always the case. The smart thing to do is get checked out regardless of the impact.

Whiplash long after the injury- Sometimes symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately following a trauma. It could take days, weeks, even months for symptoms to arise. Just because there is not instantaneous pain, does not mean there isn’t an underlying problem. Don’t wait for the pain! Follow up with a doctor before pain sets in to make sure everything is okay.

Whiplash outside of the car- Although most people believe whiplash is specific to car accidents, it is not always the case. Whiplash can occur in any instance where the head is thrown forward/back or side/side. Sports are a very common way one may experience a whiplash injury. Be it from a hard tackle in football or a volleyball to the face. Even roller coaster rides can cause variations of this injury. Now I’m not telling you not to ride roller coasters or allow your kids to play sports, but be aware of the circumstances. Check in with your chiropractor or primary care physician after any potentially harmful situations.

Whiplash and chiropractic care- It is always important to get checked out by a qualified physician who can diagnose and treat potential injuries. Initially, urgent care centers or your primary physician’s office are good places to start. However, since whiplash is a direct injury to the joints, ligaments, and muscles of the neck, it is very treatable with chiropractic care. After all, chiropractors are experts of musculoskeletal conditions.

10 Symptoms of Whiplash:
  1. Neck pain
  2. Headache
  3. Reduced spinal mobility
  4. Dizziness
  5. Blurred vision (visual changes)
  6. Ringing in ears
  7. Numbness/tingling in arms
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Mid-back pain
  10. Low back pain

As you can see, there is a laundry list of symptoms that come along with whiplash. The bold ones can also be signs of concussion. I hope you are now better educated on what whiplash is, how it can occur, and where to go if you are experiencing such symptoms. As with any disorder, the sooner you seek treatment, the better your prognosis. If you are in the St. Louis area and believe you may be experiencing whiplash, please call our office at 314-298-1400. We would love to answer any questions you may have.

The Chiropractic Physicians of Smart Pain Solutions

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