Whiplash Q & A
by Heather Brown, DC
Can a minor accident really cause serious injuries?
Yes. Research shows that there’s little relationship between the speed of a rear-end collision and the chance you’ll suffer an injury.
Part of the reason relates to the design of the body. Your head carries significant weight, all of which rests on the neck, which must be strong, but at the same time flexible enough to permit full mobility. With the transfer of energy present in even low-speed collisions, the ligaments and other soft tissue supporting your head may be strained and damaged, causing misalignment of the cervical spine, nerve irritation, and muscle damage.
What is the most common injury resulting from auto accidents?
The violent, whip-like motion caused by rear end collisions, commonly called whiplash, is perhaps the most common soft tissue injury resulting from auto accidents. Though it may also occur due to sports injuries or other trauma, the directional transfer of force involved with collisions creates ideal conditions to strain and sprain ligaments and muscles of the neck.
Whiplash may cause neck pain, neck stiffness, and headaches, and although most cases heal spontaneously in weeks or months, chronic pain and other complications may arise at other times. You may lose range of motion in your neck, and pain may spread into your shoulders and upper arms. Numbness and tingling may extend lower down your arms, and accompanying dizziness and fatigue are common.
Other complications of whiplash include:
How does Dr. Brown treat whiplash?
A proponent of Activator Method® and Torque Release™ techniques, Dr. Brown frequently uses these hand-held devices to perform gentle and consistent chiropractic adjustments. These tools provide low-mass, high-velocity force to accomplish adjustments of the spine, translating to a gentle thump feeling at the point of treatment. This contrasts with high-mass, low-velocity adjustments, the type that typically produce the cracking sound that some patients find unnerving. Instrument-based adjustments are well-suited to whiplash injuries, particularly when muscle and joint stiffness reduce the mobility of the neck vertebrae.