A motor vehicle accident can be very traumatic, but the effects of such an injury can be longer lasting than initially assumed, and symptoms may not even seem to occur for months following the initial injury. The Second Law of Motion states that if an unbalanced force acts on a body, that body will experience acceleration ( or deceleration), that is, a change of speed. A whiplash injury is a transfer of force from the car to your neck and potentially other parts of your body. At impact, our body braces itself, reducing normal range of motion. However, the force of impact, as described by Newton, flexes and extends the neck beyond its normal range, thus injuring tissue and causing acute and eventual chronic symptoms. This is why even at speeds as low as 5mph there can be significant injury to the spine and therefore even seemingly mild motor vehicle accidents need to be taken seriously.
Symptoms are often not experienced immediately after the injury, thus lessening the patient’s initial assessment of the severity during the whiplash event. In addition, there is an increased likelihood one can experience a concussion aka mild traumatic brain injury in conjunction with the whiplash. This is why it is important that your doctor is assessing neurological function as well following a motor vehicle collision.
Some Common Symptoms:
- Tension headaches
- Pain at the base of the skull
- Neck pain or soreness
- Upper back pain
- Pain in the shoulder blade regions
- Chest pain (due to seat belt straining anterior rib joints)
- Lower back and hip pain
- Loss of normal range of motion, or stiffness
The best course of treatment is through Chiropractic Neurology care and eventually Therapeutic Physical Rehabilitation. Reducing inflammation is key to long term success. The vertebrae of the spine must regain proper biomechanics (motion), thus reducing inflammation and the potential for future osteoarthritis. Strengthening of the larger muscle groups is necessary, but even more important is the retraining and strengthening of the spinal stabilizers that are most damaged during any whiplash event. In addition, normal range of motion and signaling from the spine is vital to appropriate function of the vestibular and ocular systems which affect overall neck and brain integrity.
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