Car Accidents, Neck Injury and Whiplash
Whiplash is the term commonly used to describe injuries resulting from personal injury accidents where the head is thrown violently backward and forward in a “whipping” motion. The injury is often worse if the victim’s head is turned to the side at the time of the impact. Whiplash is recognized as the most common injury received by victims of car accidents and can cause injury to spinal joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. Whiplash may be seen along with concussions and more severe injury in some cases. The effects of whiplash can be short or long-term and can leave the neck permanently susceptible to injury.
Research has shown that Whiplash leads to long-term disability in about 10% of people injured in car accidents. Approximately 1,000,000 people are exposed to whiplash injury in the U.S. every year. Nearly 25% of these cases result in chronic pain and disability, and 1 in 7 whiplash victims will still have significant pain more than 3 years after the accident.
Whiplash is typically diagnosed following a physical examination or using X-rays. X-rays will also be used to see if there are any fractures of the vertebrae and the extent to which the alignment of the neck has been altered. After a whiplash injury, the natural curve in the neck may be reversed, which results in an uneven distribution of the weight of your head through the neck joints and may further misalign the vertebrae and possibly accelerate degenerative arthritis in the involved joints.
Many patients transported to a hospital er or Acute Care facility in an ambulance to a hospital will be put in a stiff neck brace on a backboard- as a preventive measure to avoid more serious injury to the neck. The course of treatment will vary depending on the extent of your injury and the area of your spine that is injured, e.g., injuries to the spinal joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, or nerve roots. Physical therapy consists of heat, cold, traction, cervical collar, trigger point therapy, ultrasound, massage, and neck exercises. Urgent Neurological evaluation and treatment can help with a quick recovery. Chiropractic and Physical therapy in the treatment of accident-related neck injuries and whiplash helps with rehabilitating the injured tissues and improves outcomes.
If you have been in an accident and have pain, even if it is minor, consult with a doctor who has experience treating accident injuries. Our professional staff has over 20 years of experience in managing Personal Injury cases in the South Florida area.
Author: Dr. Gary Robertson is a 1989 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has over 20 years of experience treating patients with accident injuries and has post-graduate training in Whiplash and Spinal Trauma