WhiplashWhiplash and chronic whiplash injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents. More than 3 million Americans will see a doctor and a chiropractor for automobile accidents and whiplash effects. It only takes a 2.5 mph hit to cause an injury. And whiplash doesn’t only happen when hit from behind, there are several ways an individual can be subjected to whiplash, including being T-boned, amusement park rides, and falling off a bicycle or a horse.
SymptomsMost whiplash symptoms develop in the first twenty-four hours, but this is not always the case. Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- A stiff neck
- Intense neck pain when moving, rotating
- Headaches that start at the base of the head
- Loss of range of motion
- Shoulder pain
- Arm pain
- Upper back pain
- Low back pain
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty with concentration
- Memory difficulties
- Sleep disorders
Facts and StatsMost individuals realize they have whiplash a day or two after, but for others, it can take a few weeks or even months to present. Whiplash is classified by degree or grade:
Grade 0The individual has no complaints and there are no symptoms/signs of physical injury.
Grade 1There is neck pain but there are no physical signs of injury.
Grade 2There are signs/symptoms of musculoskeletal damage and neck pain is presenting.
Grade 3There are signs/symptoms of neurological damage and neck pain is presenting. The average amount of time most individuals stay home from work is around 40 days. However, when whiplash pain lasts longer than a few weeks, it is deemed to be chronic whiplash.
Chronic WhiplashSome individuals with whiplash experience painful symptoms for years. This is true of those that avoid or refuse medical attention and learn to live with it.
Treatment OptionsThere are very effective methods for treating whiplash and chronic whiplash injuries. Depending on the extent of the injury/s, developing the right treatment/rehabilitation plan requires individual consultation with a chiropractor to discuss options that can include:
Pain ReliefThe pain can be excruciating. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen for temporary relief. However, the individual will need extended treatment to ensure it does not become chronic pain.
Neck BraceNeck braces help limit the pain, but should not be worn for more than three or four days. If worn for too long the neck muscles are prevented from gaining the strength needed to support the head.
Don’t Sit For Too LongAvoid keeping the head in any one position for too long. This includes sitting in bed, watching TV, or working at a desk. This places a large amount of pressure and stress on the neck, making the pain even more severe and longer-lasting.
Sleeping Properly and ComfortablyFor many, it can be difficult to get into a comfortable position when sleeping. Sleeping on the back with the head turned to one side can worsen the pain. Try a high-quality ergonomic pillow that allows the individual to sleep on their side and takes the pressure off of the neck.
Spinal AlignmentWhiplash can cause the spine to shift out of alignment. This can lead to additional problems in the back or shoulders. It’s always a good idea to see a chiropractor that specializes in motor vehicle accident injuries to realign the spine and neck, as well as for rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles and prevent further injuries. See a chiropractor for an evaluation of the injuries and develop a customized treatment plan that works for the individual’s condition.
Everyone is differentSome individuals can be stiff and sore for a few days and then are okay with not much pain. Some individuals experience severe pain immediately after the wreck, while others have no pain for days or even weeks. Both scenarios are pretty common. Soft tissue injuries can be very deceiving. Some don’t experience any pain for months after the accident. Many don’t think they need to see a doctor or chiropractor because there is no pain or symptoms. However, underneath serious problems could be getting ready to present including:
- Constant headaches
- Numbness or pins and needles in the hands or arms
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Poor posture
- Chronic muscle tension
- Painful spasms
- Degeneration of the discs
- Painful inflamed arthritis
- The quick development of arthritis
- Sore, tight, or inflexible muscles
- Sleep disturbances
A decrease in physical activityPhysical inactivity is a primary factor in the progression of sarcopenia. Resistance exercise can help maintain muscle mass and help build muscular strength. Individuals that are more sedentary can exacerbate the effects of sarcopenia.
A decrease in motor neuronsAging is accompanied by motor neuron loss resulting from cell death. This leads to a decrease in muscle fiber. This decrease in muscle fibers leads to:
- Impaired performance
- A reduction in functional capacity
- A decreased ability to perform everyday tasks