Whiplash or WAD (whiplash associated disorder) occurs with the rapid, uncontrolled movement of the head as it whips back and forth. While the most common cause is motor vehicle collision, this injury often happens during slip and falls, and many types of athletic mishaps. Regardless of the cause, the end result is always the same: your neck hurts. Lets look at some myths related to this type of injury.
- Myth 1: Men are more vulnerable to injury because of greater neck muscle mass. Where there is more muscle there is more to injure. FACT: Women are more vulnerable because they have less muscle mass to protect them. During a whiplash event a woman's neck will go through a greater range of motion involving more neck joints and straining the muscles and ligaments to a far greater extent. Statistically, women suffer from permanent residual problems after a whiplash injury, more than men.
- Myth 2: You can only get a concussion by hitting your head. FACT: You can also get a concussion by the violent movement of your head without ever striking your head on anything. Your brain floats in and is protected by a cushion of fluid (cerebral spinal fluid). Any event that can cause your brain to smash into the inside of your skull can cause a concussion. Post-concussive syndrome or “mild traumatic brain injury” can easily happen in whiplash injuries.
- Myth 3: Negative xrays means no injury. FACT: It happens so often, you have a motor vehicle collision, xrays are taken at the ER and the radiologist reports ...”essentially normal”. You might be tempted to conclude that no injury has occurred. Xrays only show damage to your bones. The muscle, tendons and ligaments that are most often injured are seen on xray. If xrays of the neck also include forward and backward bending you will often see the evidence of injury. MRI is also an appropriate diagnostic tool to see the soft tissue damage.
- Myth 4: Rest and time alone will heal your whiplash injury. FACT: Though time for healing plays a role in recovery following all injuries, many people find this approach fails and their pain persists. In fact, studies suggest that mobilization and manipulation performed as soon as possible after a whiplash injury yields significantly better outcomes than wearing a cervical collar and not moving the neck. Whiplash injuries when not properly treated, often result in permanent loss of motion, pain, headache and more. The days of rest only should be replaced by the sports medicine model of hot/cold packs, manipulation, massage, traction and guided exercise, not “...wait and watch”.
Prompt care and dedicated attention to your injuries will always provide an improved chance for a better outcome. I assure you that quality chiropractic care is the best approach for the treatment of whiplash injured people.
is an Encinitas chiropractor. For more information, you can visit encinitaschiropractor.intuitwebsites.com or call 760-634-0232.