Whiplash injuries to the cervical spine are some of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents. The sudden forward and backward motion of the head can cause damage to the ligaments and tendons in the neck, leading to pain, stiffness, and restricted movement. Cares are designed to withstand impacts of 8-12 mph so even an accident that has not damaged the vehicle can cause a whiplash injury. Studies have shown that an accident at 6-8 mph can cause a whiplash injury in the cervical spine (neck). The most common symptoms of whiplash are neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. However, whiplash can also cause dizziness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. If you have been in a car accident and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away.
"Will I feel pain right away after a whiplash injury?"
Unfortunately for the injured, the pain might not peak for up to 72 hours post-accident, however insurance companies will look to deny claims of whiplash injuries if neck pain is not immediately reported. A thorough examination and detailed history along with proper documentation (Photos, witnesses, etc)at the scene of the accident. You typically have up to one-year post MVA to submit a claim for bodily harm, but obviously the longer you wait to be seen by a doctor and examined the more the insurance companies will fight back, regardless of the legitimacy of your injuries. If feeling anything but normal it's advisable to go and get examined shortly after an accident to create a document trail to back up any claims you may need to make in the near future.
"What's the best treatment for a whiplash injury?"
In many cases, whiplash injuries can be healed with Upper Cervical Chiropractic care. This form of chiropractic treatment is very different from 'traditional' chiropractic care. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care is designed to stabilize and align the cervical spine, helping to reduce inflammation and promote healing. This type of chiropractic care uses low force adjustments so no further damage is done to the spine (no twisting, cracking, or pooping), and once holding your adjustments you can expect the spine to heal in a more optimal position. At our office, we specialize in Upper Cervical Chiropractic care, specifically NUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care. This form of chiropractic treatment is gentle and effective and has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for whiplash injuries.
Another common occurrence I see is that the whiplash forces are transferred to the mid-back and low back, causing pain and even disc herniations, regardless if they have a seatbelt on. The problem with treatments in these regions is that they are often unsuccessful unless the cervical spine is treated and stabilized as well. I've worked with over 100 motor-vehicle accident cases in my career and I have found in most cases the pain the problem spots are now always in the same location. For this reason, a thorough examination must be done to diagnose the conditions properly. Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims because of inadequate exams or improper treatments. Fortunately, I've never had a problem with that issues since my approach is so thorough.
"What treatments are necessary after an
accident if I injure my spine?"
Unfortunately, I see too many people go to a chiropractor or physical therapist after a motor vehicle accident and just get the cookie-cutter approach, including a lot of unnecessary therapies. In my world, less is more, I don't add all the 'fluff' to pad the insurance claim bill, I just focus on getting my patients well as soon as possible. I do gentle adjustments to re-align and stabilize the spine and prescribed rehabilitative exercise to be able to work on your spine from home. Some people require manual therapies or traction but not everyone.
If you or someone you know has suffered a whiplash injury, call our office today for a consultation! We would be happy to answer any of your questions and help you on your road to recovery!