It is the most common complaint from whiplash trauma being reported in over 90% of patients. It will often radiate across the shoulders, up into the head, and down between the shoulder blades. Injuries to the neck usually affect all of the tissues including: facet joints, discs, muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Facet joints are the most common cause of neck pain following a car accident and can only be diagnosed by physical palpation by a trained chiropractor.
Phases of Whiplash
The vehicle accelerates forward and begins to be pushed out from under you. This causes your mid-back to be flattened against the back of the seat and your neck to be compressed upwards and extended backwards over the headrest.
Your body is now accelerating 1.5 – 2 times that of the car itself. The seat begins to recoil forwards while your head is still accelerating and extending backwards causing a hyperextension shearing effect.
The head and torso are accelerating forward, moving within the slack of the seatbelt.
The seatbelt has now stopped your body from moving forwards, but has now created a pivot point for your neck to bend forward over leading to the hyperflexion injuries.
Treatment for Whiplash
Most mild whiplash injuries heal in 6-9 months. However, over 20% of people with whiplash injuries from a car accident suffer for years with pain, weakness, or restricted movement. The most effective treatment for whiplash injuries is a combination of chiropractic care, physiotherapies, rehabilitation of the soft tissues, and at home lifestyle changes.
Chiropractors use manual therapies, called adjustments, to restore the normal movement and position of the spinal vertebrae. It is the single most effective treatment for minimizing the long-term impact of whiplash injuries, especially when coupled with the other therapies listed.
Soft Tissue Rehabilitation
Soft tissues are your muscles, ligaments, tendons, nervous system, spinal discs, and internal organs. It is important to stimulate these tissues to heal correctly in order to minimize permanent impairment and disability. These therapies may include massage, electrical stimulation, trigger point therapy, stretching, and exercises.
Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the 2nd half of the healing equation. How you live and how you work is the main determining factor in reoccurrences and long term prevention of future symptoms.