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Motor Vehicle Injuries

Whiplash is a word commonly used to describe the mechanism of injury that occurs during a motor vehicle crash. The term was coined in the 20’s and is now used to describe a variety of injuries (predominately to the neck) associated most commonly with auto crashes.

Until recently, “whiplash” injuries were thought to be a result of the rapid “whipping” forward and backward of the head and neck during a motor vehicle crash. When one motor vehicle strikes another from behind, certain forces are transmitted from the striking vehicle to the struck vehicle. These forces are then transmitted to the occupant(s) of the struck vehicle where they have the potential to cause whiplash injury.

Upon impact, the cervical spine, which is normally C-shaped, actually assumes an S-shaped appearance. In other words, it bends backwards past its normal range of motion. This creates sheering effects on the tissues and structures of the body. The muscles and ligaments supporting the spine and may then become torn, and the spinal discs may bulge, tear, or rupture. The nerve roots in the neck can get stretched and irritated. There may only slight damage to the car, but the occupant may have suffered extensive damage. Left untreated, the formation of scar tissue can lead to impaired function, and early degenerative change down the road.

How are “Whiplash Injuries” Diagnosed and Treated?

Diagnosis involves history of the injury, hands-on examination of the involved areas and often diagnostic studies such as X-ray, lab work, and electrodiagnostic studies to determine the true pain generator and amount of tissue damage. Medical treatment usually consists of rest, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication, and monitoring. Often physical therapy is recommended. Many who suffer from “whiplash injuries” find medical treatment alone to be ineffective at treating the underlying cause of the condition and find that the drugs are simply “masking” the symptoms.

What if Other Forms of Treatment Have Failed?

While it’s not unusual that traditional medical treatment for these types of conditions often fail, there is still hope. If caught early enough, inflammation can be reduced and scar tissue can often be minimized. Conservative Chiropractic treatment, following proper evaluation to determine the true pain generator, the amount of tissue damage and the underlying cause of the condition, is many times able to provide relief and resolution of the problem many times after other methods have failed. Using a combination approach of Chiropractic Care, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, spinal decompression therapy, cold laser, soft tissue techniques and acupuncture, many find relief from “whiplash” where they thought they might just have to “learn to live with the pain”.