Whiplash can be so severe that even the simplest daily task would be impossible for you to do or it can be a mild annoyance that keeps you from turning your head to the side. No matter the intensity of your injury, it should not be left untreated!
4 Phases Of Whiplash
Did you know that whiplash occurs in phases? Yes it does, actually it has four phases that all happens in less than one-half of a second when your body is thrown forward and then pulled back with intense speed and force during a rear-end collision.
This is exactly at the moment of rear-end impact. What happens is that your mid-back flattens against your seat while your head moves backward acting as opposing forces on your neck. By this time, the injury has already occurred before your head even touches the head rest.
This is where your torso has accelerated as far out as possible. Your head then continues to move backward resulting to your neck forming an abnormal S-curve.
By this time your torso has starts to descent back to your seat and your head is now in its peak acceleration movement forward.
In this phase your head continues to move forward in a forceful bending motion of your cervical spine. This is where the spinal cord and nerve roots are stretched and irritated while your brain may have hit the inside of your skull.
Symptoms Of Whiplash
Patients generally don’t feel anything right after the collision but that doesn’t mean there is no injury. This is why it’s vital to seek chiropractic care for early diagnosis and treatment. When symptoms materialize though, you may experience:
· Neck and back pain and aching
· Neck stiffness and decreased range of motion
· Shoulder pain and stiffness
· Headaches (most commonly at the base of the skull radiating towards the forehead)
· Jaw pain
· Arm pain and weakness
· Sensory disturbances, such as pins and needles
Some patients also experience cognitive symptoms of whiplash such as:
· Ringing in the ears
· Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision
· Difficulty concentrating
· Memory problems
· Difficulty sleeping
When To Seek Medical Attention
Whiplash will often get better on its own or after simple treatment in a few weeks or month. But once you start experiencing pain that spreads to your shoulders and/or arms; if it becomes painful and difficult to move your head; if you experience numbness, tingling or weakness; or if the pain is severe and interfering with everyday life, seek a chiropractor right away!
Treatment Options For Whiplash
Different patients show different symptoms depending on the severity of the injury. But typical treatments could be:
· Ice Pack
This is often advised right after the injury is sustained to lessen inflammation and swelling. The ice pack will be placed against the nape in 5-10 minutes intervals for the initial day following the accident.
Heat compress is to relieve aching and pain. This is typically given after the 2-3 days of icing following the accident.
Since the muscles around the neck have weakened due to the injury, gentle neck and shoulder exercise helps strengthen the muscles and helps with the recovery.
· Chiropractic Care
In case you condition need more comprehensive treatment but you would like to avoid pain medications as well as surgery, chiropractic care can help. Chiropractors can gently move the involved joint towards the restricted area. This helps create mobility and encourages healing.