Whiplash What you Must Know

Statistically, there is a strong likelihood that you or someone you know will be involved in a car accident. The average driver will be in a car crash once every 18 years translating into 4 accidents over the course of a lifetime. Though the risk of death is very low, the odds are that one of these accidents will result in bodily injury (whiplash) and/ or property damage, is high. Even a minor fender bender can result in an injury, which can cause problems. If you’ve ever been in one you know what I’m talking about. Typically the first course of action is treating your pain with painkillers and rest. Once you feel better, you may think that you’re in the clear, but what if your symptoms linger? Or in some cases if you have no symptoms, can a car crash come back to hurt you later in life?

The most common cause of a whiplash injury is a car accident


The term whiplash has been around for quite sometime, however the correct medical terminology is Cervical Acceleration Deceleration Syndrome.  This occurs after a rapid forward and backward motion of the head and neck creating a whipping force through the spine.  Dr. Arthur Croft, an expert in whiplash injuries estimates that as many as 3 million whiplash injuries occur every year in the United States. 

A whiplash injury is a trauma to the structures of the neck including the vertebrae, discs, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves and in some cases the spinal cord itself.  Whiplash injures are caused by automobile accidents, slip and falls, amusement park rides, and contact sports. After a whiplash injury you may or may not feel immediate pain.  Sometimes these symptoms don’t show up for days or even years after an accident.  The typical symptoms of a whiplash are neck and back pain, vertigo (dizziness/ loss of balance), nausea, weakness, headaches, visual disturbances, and numbness and tingling into the extremities.  The results of a whiplash injury range from mild pain for a few days to severe disability.  Pain levels can range from mild lasting for a few days to severe disability causing restricted range of motion of the head and neck.  It has been estimated that as many as 40-50% of whiplash injuries result in permanent pain.   

I’ve been in a car accident, what do I do now?

1) Call 911 to report the accident and to attend to anyone who is seriously injured. 

2) Get the contact and insurance information and license plate numbers of all parties involved.

3) If possible get pictures and video of the accident scene and document damage to vehicles involved.

4) Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone other than the investigating police officers.

5) If you go to the hospital in an ambulance or a family member takes you, be sure to let the hospital staff know that your injuries were from a car accident.  6) Once your immediate injuries are attended to in the hospital call your auto insurance company and report the accident. They will provide you with a claim number and the name and contact information of a claims adjuster. This is the person you will be contacting through your auto insurance company moving forward. 

Treating the Injury

Provided no fractures have occurred, Dr. Andrew can do an examination that begins with obtaining a detailed history, followed by orthopedic and neurologic tests, a range of motion test, posture and palpation check, and X-rays to see the extent of damage or change in the spine.  If further imaging is needed like an MRI, Dr. Andrew can refer you out for one.     

After a detailed examination is performed Dr. Andrew will present a treatment plan.  This plan may or may not include passive and active exercises, chiropractic spinal and extremity adjustments, therapies such as traction to correct the spinal position, stretching, and ice.

Chiropractic Is Preferred

According to the Insurance Research Council, “nearly one third of all claimants injured in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) seek treatment from doctors of chiropractic.”  According to a 2012 study on the Epidemiology of Whiplash, “ manual therapy (i.e., cervical mobilization and or manipulation), together with exercise appear to be the most effective noninvasive treatments for patients with acute whiplash related neck pain.”  The reason so many people choose to use chiropractic during their recovery process is because of its unique advantages in treating soft tissue injuries such ligament sprains and muscle strains of the spine.  Also, injuries of the spinal discs, facet joints and vertebra can benefit from chiropractic care.  These benefits make chiropractic a natural choice for treatment after a car accident. 

Some whiplash injuries cause complications that can last for years.  If a cervical spine impact injury occurs it is crucial that it receives immediate attention.  The sooner a neck injury is

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