Whiplash is a non medical term which means cervical (neck)sprain/strain due to a deceleration accident. Sprain/strain of the neck is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck. In an automobile accident, the joints of the neck, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.
What Causes Cervical Sprain/Strain (Whiplash)?
Sprain/strain is caused by an abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head, often as a result of a car accident. Sprain/strain of the neck and back can also be caused by sudden falls or any other trauma that creates a sudden change of direction. Sprain/strain of the spinal muscles may cause the spinal bones to lose their normal alignment and motion leading to a condition called subluxation.
What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Sprain/Strain (Whiplash)?
Symptoms of cervical sprain strain may be delayed for 24 hours or more after the initial trauma. However, people who experience sprain/strain may develop one or more of the following symptoms, usually within the first few days after the injury:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
- Low back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hands
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue
How Is Cervical Sprain/Strain (Whiplash) Diagnosed?
In most cases, injuries are to soft tissues such as the discs, muscles and ligaments, and cannot be seen on standard X-rays. However there is generally a straightened curve in the neck when viewed from the side, as well as a shift in the vertebrae out of the normal alignment when viewed with flexion and extension x-rays. Specialized imaging tests, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be required to diagnose your injury. More serious conditions like bulging or herniated discs may also be viewed through MRI imaging.
How Is Cervical Sprain/Strain (Whiplash) Treated?
Use a variety of treatment modalities to treat injuries due to auto accidents. These include heat, ice, chiropractic, active mobilization, stretching, rehabilitation exercises, IASTM, and deep tissue therapy. Rest assured your health is our number one priority, so referrals to other practitioners such as Physical Therapists, and Neurologists may be made to further assess and treat your injuries. We also may recommend nutritional therapies to help augment your healing.
It is vital to begin mobilization as soon as possible after an auto injury. Chiropractic care immediately following an injury may improve long term outcomes. Ice is recommended over heat for the first 72 hours following a cervical sprain strain.
Many people who have been involved in a low speed car accident do not feel pain for several days up to several weeks following an auto accident. The best way to determine if you have been injured is to listen to your body. If you have stiffness and pain that is out of the ordinary for you then you should be checked out by a licensed chiropractor as soon as possible.
“Dr Andy was so great to work with after my auto accident. The massage therapists were excellent and skilled, the adjustments and mobilization techniques worked fantastic, and the back and neck exercises that he walked me through every treatment made by back and neck stronger than before the accident.”
~ Lori R.
If you have a chiropractic emergency call Dr. Andy at (612) 481-3666.