Whiplash is the sudden extension and flexion of the neck that causes damage to the surrounding ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles. The common causes of whiplash are car accidents where the body suddenly lunges forward leaving the head behind until the seat belt stops your body’s forward motion and then your head whips forward causing trauma to the neck.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash can be felt immediately or be delayed by weeks, therefore you feel you may have suffered whiplash you should see a professional right away. Here are a few of the symptoms that you may feel after experiencing whiplash.
Neck and Shoulder Pain – Neck pain is the number complaint by sufferers of whiplash. Pain will radiate to the head, shoulders and between the shoulder blades, the reason being that most if not all tissues in the neck are traumatized during the event. Though the initial pain felt is usually the muscles it’s often the tears in the bundles of fibers that make up the outer wall of the discs that becomes the source of the chronic pain down the road. These tears result in herniated discs causing irritation of the nerves and pain felt elsewhere in the body.
Headaches – What often is felt next are headaches. These headaches can be caused by trauma to the brain, but usually are from the stressed muscles, ligaments, and tendons pulling at the cervical spine.
Low Back Pain – Though the low back does not experience as much movement as the head the sudden compression and stretching of the lumbar spine can cause damage to the discs as well as the support muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Low back pain is typical felt more in side impacts than a front or rear impact.
Brain Damage – Due tot eh sudden violent trauma the brain will hit the front and rear of the skull causing bruising and bleeding. This can result in a concussion and loss of consciousness immediately after impact. Short and long term effects can be difficulty concentrating or remembering, sleep quality, emotional depression, loss of sex drive, and irritability. Your sense of smell, taste, and sight can be affected if the right nerves are damaged in the process.
Dizziness – This can stem from the injuries to the spine or brain and are usually temporary.
TMJ – In certain cases Temporomandibular joint dysfunction can happen and should be treated if you feel clicking, popping, and pain when the jaw is moved.
Diagnoses and Treatment
Since whiplash tends to only damage the soft tissues, the damaging effects can not be seen with an x-ray and require a CT scan or MRI. Once this is diagnosed, though, chiropractic care, as well as soft tissue rehabilitation, should be taken immediately to lessen the chances of the pain becoming chronic.
Chiropractic care will aid in restoring the spine to its normal mobility and alignment. This will help reduce the damage of whiplash most and create a stronger base on the road to recovery. For the trauma caused to the soft tissue the use of trigger point therapy, massage therapy, exercise to increase strength, and electro stimulation to increase strength and flexibility. Without the combination of both these medical treatments, pain can continue on for years or even rest of your life.
In order to increase the chances of recovery, it is best that you follow an exercise rehabilitation plan provided by your doctor to aid the treatments that are given. During the months of treatment limited daily activities should be performed and trying to get plenty of rest.
In the event that chiropractic care is unable to completely relieve the pain, surgery may be required to correct a herniated disc or spinal fracture.
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