After a car accident, many things run through your mind. You worry about your car, your family, and the other driver. You release adrenaline into our body that helps you keep going—but it can also stop you from feeling your own injuries. Often, it isn’t until hours or days later that you feel discomfort in your spine and neck. The human body can handle much of what we throw at it every day, but it was not designed to be exposed to the force a car accident provides.
Whiplash refers to an injury suffered when the head and neck snap forward and backward suddenly, usually through a rear-end collision car accident. Whiplash injuries can also occur during sports, falls or any other activity that may violently snap the head and neck from one direction to another.
Research reveals that car crashes as slow as 15-20 km per hour can still generate whiplash. In Australia, the incidence of whiplash disorders is about 300 per 100,000 people. Up to 20% of drivers and passengers involved in rear-end motor car accidents experience whiplash symptoms. Symptoms can persist for months to years for 10 to 40% of people who experience whiplash injury.
Neck pain is the most common symptom of whiplash. Other symptoms can include headaches, aches, pain and tingling in the shoulders and arms, and dizziness or a feeling of being light-headed. Some people may continue to have these symptoms during their recovery. In some instances, untreated whiplash injuries can result in chronic pain.
Woodward MN, Cook JCH, Gargan MF, and Bannister GC; Chiropractic treatment of chronic ‘whiplash’ injuries; Injury; Volume 27; Issue 9; November 1996; pp. 643-645.
When these additional symptoms are present it is called whiplash-associated disorder (WAD).
WAD injuries are graded 0-4.
- 0= No Pain or other symptoms
- 1= Minor pain, but no evidence of physical injury.
- 2= Signs of physical injury such as trouble turning neck
- 3=Neurological signs such as loss of reflexes or arm weakness
- 4= Neck fracture or dislocation.
Khan S, Cook J, Gargan M, Bannister G; A symptomatic classification of whiplash injury and the implications for treatment; The Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine 21(1) 1999; pp. 22-25.
In a major accident, it is very important to get an immediate medical evaluation to rule out the possibility of fracture (WAD 4). In these rare cases, urgent medical attention is required. However, in most cases (WAD 0- 3), the whiplash affects the soft tissues and joints. Chiropractors are educated to understand whiplash injury and manage these cases from beginning to end. In Australia, treatment under third party motor vehicle insurance requires a medical doctor’s referral to a chiropractor.
A whiplash injury directly impacts the structure and stability of the spine. Medical treatment of whiplash can include pharmaceutical drugs that do not repair the underlying cause of the physical problem. Physical therapy for soft tissues does produce therapeutic results for whiplash but the use of soft tissue treatment does not address the spinal joints, ligaments, and nervous system function involved in proper healing and recovery.
- provides an effective, cost-efficient option for whiplash injury treatment.
- addresses the pain and symptoms that radiate from the root cause of the injury.
- assists patients to experience reduced pain in a reduced duration of time when compared to whiplash patients using physical therapy and drugs.
Chiropractic patients needed on average, ten return visits to restore physical wellness back to normal. Patients using physical therapy reported needing over twenty return visits to achieve the same results. Patients under chiropractic care also experienced an increased range of motion, improved flexibility, as well as a 21% greater reduction in pain compared to those receiving physical therapy.
“Manipulative Treatment vs. Conventional Physiotherapy Treatment in Whiplash Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”C Fernandez d las penas, J Fernadez-Carnero, L Palomeque del Cerro, J Miangolarra
Hoving JL, Koes BW, de Vet HCW, van der Windt DAWN, Assendelft WJJ, van Mameren H, Devillé WLJM, Pool JJM, Scholten RJPM, Bouter LM; Manual Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Continued Care by a General Practitioner for Patients with Neck Pain a Randomized, Controlled Trial; Annals of Internal Medicine; May 21, 2002; Vol. 136; No. 10; pp. 713-722.
Timely chiropractic care can start to repair the damage, reduce your pain as well as get you back on your feet quickly. If you have experience whiplash and need care please call our office on 62815494 to book an appointment with our chiropractor.