Whiplash Neck Injury Chiropractic Treatment

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is the most common auto accident injury, most often as a result of rear end or side impact collisions or as a result of a sports injury, particularly during contact sports such as football, rugby, boxing and the martial arts. Even snowboarding and gymnastics carries the risk of sustaining a neck injury like whiplash.

Whiplash causes injury to the soft tissues of the bone and spinal cord in the neck and back. These injuries are often preventable. The injury mechanism of whiplash is poorly understood, so it is the subject of intense global research. Whiplash injuries can occur in collisions at speeds as low as 5 mph (8 km/h). Because of this factor, it is important to remember that even if there is no damage to the vehicle in a collision, that does NOT mean there is no damage to the occupant/s of the vehicle.

Whiplash in Action

In order to understand what causes whiplash injuries, it is important to take a look at how your car seat and your body interact during a rear-end collision. Below you can see in slow motion the way your body moves when your vehicle gets hit from behind.

While the time associated with a specific collision will vary, the following provides an example of the occupant and seat interaction sequence for a collision lasting approximately 300 milliseconds.

0 Milliseconds

  • Rear car structure is impacted and begins to move forward and/or crushes
  • Occupant remains stationary
  • No occupant forces

100 Milliseconds

  • Car seat accelerates and pushes into occupant’s torso (i.e. central portion of the body in contact with seat)
  • The torso loads the seat and is accelerated forward (seat will deflect rearward)
  • Head remains stationary due to inertia

150 Milliseconds

  • Torso is accelerated by the car seat and may start to ramp up the seat
  • Lower neck is pulled forward by the accelerated torso/seat
  • The head rotates and extends rapidly rearward hyper-extending the neck

175 Milliseconds

  • Head is still moving backwards
  • Car seat begins to spring forward
  • The torso is again accelerated forward
  • The head rotation is increased and is fully extended.

300 Milliseconds

  • Head and torso are accelerated forward ahead of the car seat
  • Neck is “whipped” forward rotating and hyper-flexing the neck forward

Car Accident Related Injuries

Even a “fender-bender” can cause hidden injuries that can develop into neck pain, back pain, headaches, and even arthritis. Even worse, most people who have been involved in an auto accident may not even know that they’ve been hurt. Most doctors give pain killers to hide these injuries. Pills do not correct the damage to soft tissues and other systems that can lead to future pain.

Whiplash injuries may seem minor at first, especially due to the lack of any visible symptoms, but if left undiagnosed and untreated whiplash injuries can lead to chronic pain. Untreated whiplash injuries can also make a person more susceptible to future back and neck injuries. If you have been involved in an automobile accident or other incident in which you have suffered a whiplash injury, it is crucial that you receive medical attention right away.

The chiropractic approach to these types of injuries is to use specific chiropractic spinal adjustments to help return spinal function. After a thorough case history and examination, the doctor will recommend any necessary care to help restore proper motion and position of spinal bones. If caught early enough, inflammation can be reduced and scar tissue can often be minimized.