By Dr. Kemp Kirk
Have You Been In A Car Accident?
The most common injury from an automobile accident is Whiplash. Whiplash most commonly occurs when passengers in a motor vehicle are struck from behind by another vehicle. The whiplash injury happens when the passenger’s head is rapidly pulled back by the force of the collision and the head is subsequently thrown forward and then back again. Because this happens in milliseconds, the muscles, tendons and ligaments are stretched beyond their normal physical limitations. These soft tissue structures are damaged and will take a lengthy time to heal. The now stretched muscles, ligaments and tendons are hyper mobile which allows the bones in the spine to move past their normal limits. This will cause nerve root and disc irritation, but might not be noticeable for weeks or even months. The collision that causes theses injuries can be as slow as 5 mph. In fact the car can appear to have minimal to no damage because the force of the car accident is transferred to the occupants of the vehicle. Women are more susceptible to whiplash injuries due anatomical differences in neck size and muscle density.
Symptoms Associated with Whiplash
The symptoms caused by the whiplash injury are headache, neck pain with stiffness, blurred vision, inability to turn head or raise arms and numbness and/or tingling in arms and hands. The symptoms might be noticed directly after the accident or weeks later.
When these symptoms are recognized, the body will try to immobilize the injured area in three ways. First, the area will become swollen and tender with decreased range of motion. Secondly, to limit the hypermobility of the muscles, tendons and ligaments, the injured will become infiltrated with protective connective (scar) tissue to reduce movement and promote stability. Finally, as a last resort the body will stimulate excess bone growth (degenerative arthritis) in the spinal joints in order to further reduce movement and protect the injured area. Most of this happens with little or no pain.
According to an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery “…an individual involved in a motor vehicle accident is nearly 7-times more likely to suffer neck degeneration within 7-years of the car accident…” than individuals that have not been involved in an auto accident. Chiropractic’s goal is to stimulate proper healing by limiting inflammation and maintaining proper spinal alignment. This will reduce the occurrence of scar tissue and degenerative arthritis.
Treatment for Whiplash
Treatment for Whiplash injuries starts with the Chiropractic Adjustment, the most important modality for preventing long term effects from whiplash. The Chiropractic adjustment re-aligns the spinal vertebra in order to facilitate the joints to heal in the correct position. Just as with a cars alignment, if the body alignment is in correct than it will cause irreparable wear and tear to all the body’s bio-mechanical structures. Even more importantly, misalignment can cause nerve irritation which will greatly limit all physiological functions of the body. The adjustment will also help relieve muscle spasms, joint inflammation and nerve irritation that may reduce headaches.
Other modalities used to treat whiplash injuries are therapeutic massage to relieve muscle spasm and aid in the elimination of inflammatory products in the muscle. Inter-segmental traction will gently separate the spinal vertebra to increase mobility to the joints. Ultrasound and Ice are also used to reduce inflammation especially early on in treatment. Finally, once the injury has stabilized therapeutic stretching and exercise is prescribed.
Sometimes after you've been in a car accident, your whole body feels as though it is as much of a wreck as your damaged vehicle. People who've been injured in a car accident may have neck pain, stiffness, and difficulty sleeping. They may also have poor concentration, feel tired and irritable, have headaches, low back pain, shoulder pain, muscle spasms between the shoulder blades, numbness in their arms or legs, and pain across their chest from where the seatbelt came across.
If you believe yourself to have been injured in a car accident, it's best not to delay seeking treatment.
Our chiropractors have many years experience in treating people who have been hurt in automobile accidents. Back In Action Chiropractors in Flagler Beach offers natural chiropractic treatments, soothing ointments, and gentle therapies that provide help and relief for many people.
Back In Action Chiropractors has been a source of relief for the past decade for people in Flagler Beach, Palm Coast, and Bunnell who have been in car accidents.