Whiplash – Understanding Why You Have Pain
Whiplash injuries are complicated as they can cause damage to the various muscles, ligaments, joints, discs, and nerves of the neck and back. The reason you have pain is due to the injuries of these tissues.
Whiplash is the most common type of auto accident injury and occurs even when vehicle speeds are low. Accident speeds as low as 5 mph can produce enough energy to cause whiplash, whether you are wearing a seatbelt or not. If you are not adequately restrained with your seatbelt, however, your head may strike the steering wheel or windshield of the vehicle you are in, causing a concussion in addition to whiplash.
Whiplash can also be caused by sporting activities, falls, roller coasters, or being punched or shaken. It can also be one of the results of “shaken baby syndrome” (i.e., violently shaking an infant or child).
To describe it simply, whiplash injuries are caused by a motion or force that makes your neck move beyond its normal range of motion. An 8 mph car collision will produce twice the force of gravity or a 2-G acceleration of the car and a 5-G acceleration of the head. This unnatural and forceful movement injures the muscles and ligaments in the neck by stretching and tearing them. The discs between the vertebrae may be injured, and vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position, reducing the range of motion of the joints. The spinal cord and nerve roots can get stretched, irritated, or compressed.
Older people and those with preexisting neck problems such as arthritis may experience more severe whiplash injuries than a younger person. As people age, their movement is more limited, their muscles lose flexibility and strength, and their discs and ligaments are not as elastic. This establishes the potential for more damage when whiplash occurs.
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.
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, Spinal Biomechanics, and Spinal Rehabilitation. Dr. Robertson serves as the President of the Dade County Chiropractic Society.