Whiplash – What To Do!

What’s the most common injury associated with a car accident? You guessed it, Whiplash! Did you know that whiplash affects almost 83 percent of those involved in collisions and is a common cause of chronic disability?

Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck from a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion, causing upper cervical damage, inflammation and muscle spasm. Symptoms may include: neck pain and stiffness, arm pain, jaw pain, headaches, tingling/numbness) and even memory or concentration issues and emotional stress.

Unfortunately, whiplash symptoms may not appear until several weeks after an accident or injury. Many times people experience only a little pain and discomfort in the first few days, then several weeks later the body begins to show more serious symptoms. It is this delayed onset of symptoms and lack of early treatment intervention which may cause the condition to become more chronic and problematic.

Whiplash Prevention

While a whiplash injury may be unavoidable if you’re involved in a crash, there are some easy but effective ways you can minimize the risk of injury.

Proper use of Head rest: If more than one person uses a car, it is better to adjust the head rest for each driver and make sure that it’s positioned according to the convenience of each driver. Not adjusting the head restraint for each driver greatly increases the likelihood of injury. The head restraint must be locked when driving. If the head restraint is not locked, it may move during an accident, taking away protective support when needed most and resulting in substantial injuries to the neck.
Studies show that being the driver doubles your chances of head injury, especially women because they tend to sit more upright and closer to the steering wheel. A study by Brian Stemper, PhD, Asst. Professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, found that positioning an auto head rest (restraint) less than 2.4 inches from the back of the head can help prevent ligament injury. Making a simple adjustment to your car seat will help support your head and neck while reducing the injury caused by whiplash injury.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt! Although the seat belt in and of itself will not prevent whiplash, it does help to prevent your body from lurching completely forward during a car crash, even a low-impact crash. Statistics say “Buckling up” is responsible for saving the lives of 60% of the people injured in an accident. So buckle up to save your life and protect your neck.
Strengthen Neck Muscles: Since whiplash affects the neck muscles, the stronger the muscles, the less affected by sudden movement your neck will be. Isometric resistance exercises for the neck are easy to do and a great way to strengthening the supportive muscles of the neck. Ask your doctor to provide you with specific neck-strengthening exercises.

Treatment Options

Whiplash injuries can be difficult to treat for many reasons since it almost always involves legal, physical and emotional factors making effective treatment more complicated. However, the good news is that there are many non surgical natural therapy options available to help whiplash related injuries. The first treatment traditionally includes a soft cervical collar to restrict neck movement and prevent further injury. However, rest and motion restriction may hinder progress in the long run, so it is best to find professional help as soon as possible. That’s where your chiropractor can help!

Chiropractic: Chiropractors are specially trained in the treatment of whiplash injuries, and they do it well: For example, one study found chiropractors were effective at relieving whiplash pain more than 90 percent of the time. Chiropractic care focuses on relieving soft- tissue spasm, inflammation and pain by restoring proper motion in the spinal column. With the force of impact from whiplash, the spinal column can misalign and cause pain. By performing an adjustment to the spinal column, chiropractic can help restore normal function and movement to the affected areas.

Massage Therapy: Massage is one of the most effective therapies for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. Therapeutic massage can help relax the muscles, increase and maintain range of motion, decrease stress and tension, increase circulation, and prevent and break down scar-tissue formation. Ideally, therapy should start after s the acute, inflammatory phase is over (about 72 hours after the injury).
Acupuncture: A traditional Eastern healing treatment used for thousands of years, acupuncture is a treatment using fine needles that are applied to specific pressure points in order to relieve symptoms of both physical and psychological conditions. Acupuncture has proved to be a particularly effective in relieving the neck pain and other symptoms associated with whiplash injuries. In some cases, acupuncture has helped in the treatment of whiplash patients suffering long-term symptoms where conventional approaches showed little improvement.

Source: By Dr. Perry Nickelston, www.toyourhealth.com

Dr. Jeanette Altieri Dr. Jeanette Altieri is a licensed Chiropractor serving the Lawrenceville community for more than 20 years.She is certified in the Webster technique, a safe and gentle technique for turning breech babies, with specialty areas in Nutrition, Pediatrics, and Pregnancy. She is an international speaker, speaking to chiropractors, their families and staff about the care of infants, children, pregnancy and motivation. She also co-hosted a local radio talk show, “Health Talk,” to help educate people on the benefits of alternative therapies and wellness.

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