On whiplash

Many patients that we see in our office suffer from whiplash injuries due to car accidents.

Whiplash, like the name sounds, is defined by an abrupt jerking motion of the head backward or forward occurring from rear on-set automobile accidents and amusement rides or as a result of falls, other accidents and sporting activities.

Whiplash can occur at low speeds as well. Low speeds results in minimal damage to the cars but soft tissues injuries can occur. Since car impacts are unexpected and a person cannot instinctively brace their necks in anticipation and control the force transmitted to their soft tissues, whiplash can occur in these situations.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash can include neck pain and/or upper back pain, decreased range of motion of neck, headaches, numbness and tingling in arms, irritability, ringing in the ears and dizziness.

The director of the Spine Research Institute of San Diego Dr. Croft noted that several scientific studies on whiplash have confirmed the benefits of chiropractic care. He states, "While chiropractic care in the acute stage can often stave off this unpleasant outcome, two of the studies have shown that even in the chronic stage, chiropractic intervention can provide up to 90 percent relief for these sufferers."

When a patient comes in our office with neck or back pain after a car accident, patients are X-Ray-ed and a therapeutic treatment plan is initiated. Treatments includes spinal to break up adhesion, mobilize joints and increase range of motion. Cryotherapy (therapy with ice) is used to reduce inflammation, manual therapy and massage is used to reduce muscle tension and spasm. EMS is used to reduce pain. Patients are usually prescribed in office and at home therapeutic exercise regimens.

If the pain is very acute a soft neck collar is usually recommended. Icing the area at home 15-20 min three times a day is beneficial to reduce the inflammation. Patients are advised to use a small cervical pillow when sleeping. No lifting is recommended.

Dr. Susan Exposito

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