I had a patient ask, “I was in a car accident and think I have whiplash, should I be concerned?”
If you have been in an automobile collision and think you may have been injured it is cause for concern.
“What do I need to know?”
The information in this article is specific and will answer a lot of questions regarding whiplash injuries for auto collisions.
What is whiplash?
Our necks are designed to move forward and back at a “slow” controlled rate. Instead the body moves forward and the head follows causing abnormal stress in the neck (a “whipping action”), which can tears muscles and ligaments from the forward then backward “jerking” of the neck. Damaged muscles and ligaments can’t be seen on x-ray. However, this can results in a straightening the neck and loss of normal curve which can be seen on x-ray.
What causes Whiplash and how do I know if I have it?
Whiplash can also occur from sports injuries or some types of falls. The most common cause of whiplash is a rear end collision in an automobile that is stationary.
Anytime you have been involved in a car crash you should be checked by a chiropractor. A thorough examination and special tests like x-rays or MRI’s can help detect “hidden injuries.”
What are some of the symptoms of a whiplash injury?
- Neck Pain
- Head Aches
- Arm pain
- Tingling or numbness in the head, arms or hands
Other Complications from Car Crashes:
- Sudden loss of memory
- Difficulty completing routine tasks
- Jaw Pain or clicking
- Low Back Pain
- Sciatica or Leg Pain
When do symptoms occur?
Pain or numbness are sometimes noticed immediately or in other cases symptoms appear much later, days, weeks or even months later. Even if symptoms seem minor in the beginning it is a good idea to get checked out by a doctor.
Is whiplash permanent?
In many cases the damage can be reversed if the patient receives proper treatment before degenerative changes begin. Care should address the normal function of joint alignment, muscle damage and even ligament damage.
Unfortunately, some cases have permanent damage from bulging discs, torn ligaments, muscle damage or other complications. These cases require more regular care and may sometimes need surgery, injections or other medical interventions.
- 9.6 percent of the population has chronic neck pain caused by an old whiplash injury
- 45% of Americans with chronic neck pain attribute it to a car crash.
- That’s a lot of people! Early detection and treatment of a whiplash injury gets the best results in lowering your risk of chronic neck pain.
There was little or no damage to the car, could I still have whiplash?
Yes. Bumpers in cars are made to “bounce back” at low speeds. This protects the car but can cause more damage to the people inside the vehicle, especially when struck from the rear.
Cookie makers understand this principal too. That’s why they package cookies in plastic trays that crumple and spring back instead of hard plastic containers. They know that hard plastic containers cause more damage to the cookies inside.
The research: Analysis of over 8,000 crashes and 15,000 people showed that 36% of occupants sustained injuries in collisions under 9.3 mph. Only 20% sustained injuries over 9.3 mph (change in velocity). Foret-Bruno, et, al.
One of the worlds leading researchers and experts on whiplash, Arthur Croft states “I estimate that between 30% and 60% of real world car occupants exposed to (rear impact collisions) less than or equal to 2.5 miles per hour sustain some degree of injury ranging from very short lived to disabling”
Will I need X-rays, MRI, or a referral to a specialist?
X-rays are available in our clinic and will be sent to a radiologist if indicated. We will send you for MRIs, CT scans or other special test when necessary in your case. We maintain good relationships with medical doctors and specialists in our area and will gladly refer you to the proper specialist. The ordering of x-rays or special test is on a case by case basis. Not every car accident victim will need special testing.