Could Your Post-Accident Neck Pain Be Whiplash?
This time of year it is especially important to be careful in the car. Not only is there the usual distracted driving, speeding, and running red lights that could cause an accident, but winter weather makes all of those possibilities even more likely. Icy road conditions cause drivers to be unable to stop quickly and that leads to accidents. And with rear-end accidents comes whiplash. Read on to find out if your post-car accident neck pain could be whiplash!
What Really is Whiplash, Anyway?
Whiplash happens when your neck and head are suddenly forced forward and quickly back again, often resulting in damage to the cervical spine (the delicate structure in your neck that protects your spinal cord). This condition can be caused by contact sports, rollercoaster rides, bungee jumps, and falls; but we see it most frequently with car accidents.
Whiplash cases range from simple and relatively painless to cases that are extremely complicated and painful. If untreated, whiplash can cause both long-term physical pain and even mental health issues. So what about this motion causes such dramatic damage?
Crash Test Dummies
A recent study used high-speed cameras and crash test dummies to study rear-impact collisions. They determined that immediately following rear impact, the lower bones of the neck are pushed into hyperextension and the upper bones are hyper-flexed. This cause the normal gentle curvature of the neck to take on an extreme S-shape. It is believed that this abnormal positioning of the cervical spine is what damages tissues, ligaments, muscles, and vertebrae. Pain and inflammation generally set in 24-48 hours after the accident. The pain of whiplash can come and go for years after the initial injury, which is why it is so important to get treatment.
Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash
Just as we do with other injuries, the goal of whiplash treatment is to heal your whole person instead of just masking your pain. When we begin your treatment we start with an analysis of your current condition. If we suspect that there is a more serious injury involved we will refer you on for more extensive medical treatment. Most cases of whiplash can be treated with a combination of soft tissue therapy, chiropractic adjustments, ice therapy and stretches. Once your course of treatment is complete you will still want to maintain your stretches and exercises to maintain a good range of motion as you continue to heal from your accident. As with any injury, your chiropractor will choose a course of action specific to your problem, so your individual treatment plan make look different.
Other Things to Consider:
Most insurance companies will pay for chiropractic care in the aftermath of an accident. If you want help investigating your chiropractic coverage, please contact us! Remember that the body is amazing at healing, but healing takes time. Our goal is always to get you to 100% without invasive surgery or addictive prescriptions.
It can often be tough to move beyond your car accident pain, but we're here to help! If you're suffering from neck pain, check out the stretches below.