What is Whiplash?
Whiplash refers to any impact to your head and neck that causes it to jerk forward or backward quickly causing neck strain. The impact and sudden nature of the force can stretch and tear muscles and tendons in your neck.
Whiplash most commonly occurs from a car accident but may also occur from contact sports, physical combat sports and falls/accidents on play equipment.
What happens in a whiplash injury?
In a motor vehicle accident (depending on if your car collided at the front or rear), the neck and head are forced backwards into the head rest as the vehicle is moved forward. This backwards force produces the most damage to the surrounding soft tissue of the neck.
As the neck and head are forced backwards, they then rebound off the headrest and whip forward into neck flexion.
The facet joint of the spine is the most common area for chronic neck pain after whiplash. It accounts for at least 50% of cases and up to 80% of patients involved in high-speed collisions. The segmental levels of the neck vertebrae commonly affected are C2/3 and C5/6.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
- Pain with decreased movement of the neck and associated tightness in neck muscles.
- Pain with rocking your head forward and backwards or side to side.
- Pain or stiffness when turning your head to look over your shoulder.
- Neck tenderness.
- Headaches at the base of your skull which radiate towards your forehead.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Constant weariness and problems with concentration and memory.
How long does it take for whiplash injuries to show?
Symptoms may be immediate or can take several hours or days to appear after the whiplash injury has occurred. Depending on the mechanism of the whiplash injury, symptoms may not appear straight away.
What can we do?
Our approach to your whiplash injury is to first perform a thorough consultation, obtaining relevant history relating to your symptom profile. Due to the nature of whiplash, the cause is most often a result of a traumatic incident. Once we establish how and when the injury occurred, we perform an examination to obtain more relevant clinical information. From there we will explain to you if we believe chiropractic care could be of benefit to you. There is evidence to support the use of mobilisation of the cervical spine for whiplash type injury. During a consultation, your chiropractor will ensure thorough testing, and if necessary take x-rays to ensure no significant damage has occurred and that it is indicated to proceed with chiropractic care. Further questioning allows us to gather important information about your case, thus allowing us to make an informed decision on potential care options. If your chiropractor believes that your trauma is severe, you will be instructed to seek immediate medical care.
Once we establish that chiropractic care will be of benefit to you, we utilise specific and gentle chiropractic adjustment techniques to help allow proper spinal, muscular and ligamentous function.
Myrtveit. S, et.al. Somatic symptoms beyond those generally associated with a whiplash injury are increased in self-reported chronic whiplash. A population-based cross sectional study: the Hordaland Health Study (HUSK). BMC Psychiatry. 2012. Vol 12.
Evans RW: Whiplash around the world. Headache. 1995, Vol 35 (5): 262-263.
Gross, A.R.,etal., Manipulation and mobilisation for mechanical neck disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004.(1)