Whiplash

Whiplash – Get it checked!  ‘I had a minor car accident about five years ago, but I don’t think my neck pain is anything to do with that. I wasn’t even driving!’  This is something that we often hear at Active Health, but it is common for whiplash injury to be the cause of numerous problems such as headaches, neck pain and shoulder pain.

The thought of a car accident usually conjures up an image of a serious incident. However, how many times per day are people involved in minor collisions where nobody appears to be seriously hurt? It happens all of the time and very often the people involved are more concerned about the state of their vehicle than they are about their own state of health! If the people involved are not cut or bruised they tend to assume that they are okay.

But have you ever seen one of those movies with crash test dummies in a car as they re-enact a car accident?  Those dummies always seem to do the same thing don’t they? Their heads are always thrown back and forward at a frightening pace even when the collision takes place at a low speed. The fact that the head rapidly whips back and then forward is the reason for the condition to be called ‘whiplash’.

It is extremely rare that a person involved in such an incident escapes without some kind of injury. All too often the injury becomes a long term problem due to the fact that people invariably fail to get themselves checked out after the accident. This goes for everyone in the car, not just the driver.

This is why problems that occur months or even years later can frequently be traced back to a whiplash injury. This is a great pity as often, if the condition is checked out straight away, the problem can be eradicated before it deteriorates.

But what is a whiplash injury exactly?

Actually, some degree of whiplash tends to occur in all forms of head injury, but the most common cause is due to the head being bent violently forwards then backwards, as in a car accident.  This causes injury to the soft tissues, ligaments and often the spinal joints of the neck.  The pain is usually worse about twenty four hours after the incident.

Typically a sufferer would take some painkillers and hope that the pain disappears.  But very often the spinal joints have been jolted out of place and if left uncorrected, scar tissue can form leaving the sufferer with abnormal function in their neck. This can lead to headaches, tension, blurred vision, dizziness, shoulder pain, reduced motion to the neck muscles and pins and needles in the hands.

With this in mind it is always advisable to book an appointment with a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible after a car accident – this goes for each and every person involved.