Whiplash is usually caused by a car accident or sports injury. It can also be caused by falls or other situations when the neck and head are forcibly moved. This causes the hyperflexion of the neck, in which the cervical spine rotates too much, causing soft tissue inflammation and variety of other symptoms.
You don’t have to be traveling quickly to experience it. A hard rear-end crash in a vehicle going just 14 miles an hour is enough to make it happen.
Many people suffering from whiplash turn to chiropractic care for treatment. The common complaints people share with chiropractors include inflamed soft tissue around the cervical spine, shoulder pain, limited movement, headache and upper to mid-back pain, along with pain in the arms and tingling sensations.
The Two Types of Whiplash
Whiplash can occur either from the front or the rear of a car. If your car is rear-ended, your body launches forward, but your head stays behind a little longer. The head hangs back, hyperextending the neck, and then snaps forward rapidly, straining the neck forward. If your car hits the car in front of it, the opposite happens. Your body is forced back as your head stays in place, bending your neck down in flexion that may or may not is stopped by your chin. When your head snaps back it may also cause hyperextension.
The Severity of Whiplash
How bad is your whiplash? There is a scale, called Whiplash-associated Disorders that assess the type of neck pain you’re experiencing.
0 = No pain or apparent injury
1 = Neck pain but no apparent injury
2 = Neck pain and apparent injury
3 = Neck pain and neurological symptoms
4 = Neck pain and a fracture or dislocation
Who is Most Susceptible?
Most people who get whiplash use seat belts. Seat belts restrain the body and increase the likelihood of suffering whiplash in an accident. The other way that people get whiplash is through trauma and sports injuries, which are the most prevalent among younger people.
People with bad posture are more prone to neck pain and suffer from the effects, even with simple neck movements. Interestingly, women are more likely to get whiplash than men, possibly due to less developed neck musculature. In people with a narrower spinal cord, their anatomy predisposes them to increased neurological trouble when it occurs.
What Does Whiplash Look Like?
It will start 6 to 12 hours after an injury. But it can also begin in as long as a few days later. You’ll experience either neck or jaw pain. You may also experience paraspinal pain, tightness and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). The paraspinal muscles are the vertical muscles of your vertebrae. These can also spasm when aggravated.
You’ll experience a smaller range of motion in the affected areas. While these symptoms may not send you to a doctor, the problems to watch out for include nervous and mental or visual symptoms, such as numbness in the shoulders and arms, headache, fatigue, vertigo, dizziness, blurred vision, and sickness. Our qualified Atlanta Orthopedic Doctors can help you recover from whiplash. Contact AICA Orthopedics at (404) 855-2141 to schedule your consultation today.