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You’ve almost certainly heard of the term “whiplash” in conjunction with an auto accident. What, exactly, is whiplash? It is essentially a hyperextension of the cervical vertebrae as result of a sudden, violent re-positioning of your head or wrenching of your neck. The tissues there are soft and can become inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort.
It is the violence involved in a whiplash that causes unsupportable strain to the ligaments and muscles that connect to your spine. By pushing these ligaments beyond their usual range of motion, your central nervous system is placed in an unhealthy state of overcompensation. When your head moves forward and then back, your body is held somewhat in place by your seatbelt (assuming the cause is a car accident), which is why an injury exclusive to the neck region occurs.
Whiplash Can Have Several Causes
Of course, car accidents aren’t the only cause of whiplash. Any sufficiently vigorous sporting activity – from football, basketball and hockey to kayaking and traumatic injury to the head – is capable of causing whiplash. Depending on the severity of the accident, your muscles, vertebral discs, ligaments can be injured; causing trauma to your central nervous system.
Chiropractor precisely targets all of these regions, and can address the hyperextension and hyperflexion that they induce. In addition to the physical effects in the spinal region, whiplash can have many symptoms. Headaches may arise, nausea and vomiting, numbness and tingling. Sometimes, they don’t even become evident for weeks, months or years after the accident that caused the whiplash. As such, in addition to seeing a primary care doctor, you should consult a chiropractor. She can run tests to determine if there’s inflammation in the neck region, and apprehend future pain and discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why do I have pain in my arms and hands?
Because the nerves to the arms and hands exit the spine through the injured area of the neck, numbness and tingling are common. Even lower back pain can result directly from the trauma, or as a reaction to the loss of proper spinal curves.
- Why did my headaches start more than a week after my accident?
Whether you’ve been in an accident, stressed at work, or over-exerted yourself in the garden, your body is constantly adapting to the environment. When your capacity to adapt is exhausted, symptoms can appear. This can take days, weeks, months or years to occur.
- Why do minor collisions cause so much trauma to the spine?
Without getting into the laws of physics, the simple explanation is that in a more forceful automobile accident, the car itself absorbs much of the energy. In the more common parking lot “fender benders”, the energy is more directly transferred to the driver and passengers.
- Can I prevent a whiplash injury?
Since car accidents are the major cause of whiplash injuries, defensive driving skills can help. Be sure your taillights and turn signals are properly working. Allow enough stopping distance in front of you. When you slow down or stop, always check your rear view mirror to see if the driver behind you is paying attention.