Whiplash to the neck is an injury, caused by an abrupt backward or jerking motion of the head.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck, caused by an abrupt backward or jerking motion of the head. This is most commonly caused by a car accident (such as head on or being hit from behind), but can also be caused by any fall or accident with this similar jerking motion of the head on the neck; injuring the joints, discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves in the neck. This is especially damaging to the bones at the top of the neck, called C1 and C2.
Following a whiplash it is common to experience neck pain and stiffness, headaches, pain in the shoulders or between the shoulder blades, dizziness, sensations into the arm and hand (such as tingling or numbness), sleep difficulty and even memory problems!
why does whiplash happen?
This most commonly happens after a car accident, fall or sports injury. In these instances the head is jerked backward and then quickly moves forward. This sprains the joints in the neck and injures the surrounding nerve, causing a whiplash to the neck.
Common symptoms include:
- neck pain
- reduced motion of the neck or shoulder
- shoulder pain
- tingling/numbness/weakness into the arms or fingers
- ringing in the ears
- memory problems
- disturbed sleep
Most of the time the injury causes a misalignment to the bones in the top of the neck (C1 and C2), known as a Subluxation. This misalignment will put the surrounding muscles, joints and nerves out of balance.
What causes whiplash symptoms?
The symptoms are caused by the movement of the head and neck damaging the joints, nerves and muscles; particularly in the upper neck. This movement will over stretch the muscles, causing tears. The nerves will be pressured and pinched. The bones and joints will get compressed and may even fracture.
If dealt with quickly, depending on the severity, the recovery can be fast. However, if the joints and nerves are not addressed and corrected, this can result in chronic problems.
Triggers for whiplash
While the causes are due to the physical injury, there are some more recognised triggers which worsen whiplash:
Stress plays a big factor for whiplash to the neck patients. When stressed the brain is working harder on mental and emotional tasks. With this reduced capacity, there is less focus on maintaining the body in its healthy balance, including healing the parts of the neck and maintaining proper nerve function.
2. Head Movements
When moving the head quickly it will stress the already damaged joints, muscles and nerves. This will prolong the recovery.
3. Lack of sleep
If the body doesn’t get adequate rest, the body will not be able to heal itself efficiently.
How is whiplash diagnosed?
The current diagnosis for whiplash to the neck should include imaging. This may be an x-ray, CT scan or MRI, depending on the case. Typically an x-ray will be the first test ordered to exclude a fracture. MRI may be ordered for more complex cases or where there is worry of spinal cord or cervical disc damage.
A physical assessment should also be performed, including range of motion tests, orthopaedic examinations, strength tests and reflexes.
An x-ray should be taken for ALL cases of whiplash to the neck to exclude fractures.
Current treatment for whiplash to the neck
Common treatments include pain killers (such as Panadol and Ibuprofen), massage, injections, ultrasound and even surgery in rare cases; however if the C1 and C2 aren’t correct the problems will persist, sometimes for years after.
Unfortunately, most of these therapies are short-term or in some cases do not work. If the pressure remains on the sympathetic and cranial nerves due to the Atlanto Occipital Subluxation, the symptoms will return. Other approaches include rehabilitation. This can help to manage the symptoms but cannot correct the problem.
Upper Cervical care has a long history of especially good success with whiplash injuries due to its focus on the problems at C1 and C2. Once the Subluxation (misalignment) is corrected at this bones (caused by the whiplash injury itself) the muscles, ligaments and other joints can heal properly and removes the secondary symptoms.
How can chiropractic help whiplash?
Chiropractors focus on the nerve system. Upper Cervical specific Chiropractors specialise in the bones in the top part of the neck, known as the Atlas (C1) and Axis (C2). This is the location of the Atlanto Occipital Articulation. Head and neck trauma has been reported by patients (either recently or in the past) for all whiplash cases.
Patient regularly see stark improvements with Upper Cervical care, particularly dizziness vertigo and the fullness of the ear. Improvements in hearing and tinnitus are regularly reported, more so beyond 6 weeks.
At Vitality Chiropractic we specialise in Upper Cervical care. We are the first to bring this technique to South East Asia and the only clinic in Singapore. We use unique computed infrared thermography nerves scans and biomechanical x-rays to accurately diagnose the problem and provide treatment for whiplash to the neck.
Our Doctor, Dr Shaan, has undergone post-graduate work, years of experience and has a history of helping patients to treat whiplash symptoms. Click Here to Read Reviews or Hear Testimonials from our patients.
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