With roughly 27,000 auto accidents happening every day, experiencing a truck or car collision is unavoidable. These accidents can produce traumatic injuries involving our spine which are detrimental to our physical and mental health.
One such injury is called whiplash, which occurs when the tendons and ligaments of our cervical spine (neck) become damaged due to abrupt movement. Even if you’ve only been involved in a minor accident, you should see a chiropractor to ensure that your spinal health hasn’t been affected.
At Heart & Hand Chiropractic, we focus on more than just treating your symptoms, we care about your health and the root cause of your pain. That’s why we provide free spinal screenings so that you can get the help that you need IF you need it. Contact our Fort Collins office today or call us at (970) 377-3557 to have your back screened for spinal issues.
Causes and Symptoms of Whiplash
Car accidents aren’t the only way that whiplash develops. Usually, it can be brought on by:
- Any vehicle accident in which the neck is tilted forward due to significant inertia.
- A sudden blow to the head that causes unexpected neck movement.
- Slipping and falling at an awkward angle which twists the neck.
- Collisions that cause the body and neck to move without synchrony.
Just as the causes can be varied, as too can the symptoms that you may experience. Beyond feeling neck, shoulder, arm, and/or back pain, you may also have neck stiffness, headaches, TMJ issues, tinnitus, dizziness, or muscles spasms.
Typically with whiplash you will feel restricted neck movement caused by stiffness in the cervical region. This stiffness may be attributed to the weakening of the neck muscles resulting from the injury. Joint dysfunction can develop as one of the joints in the spine loses its ability to absorb shocks.
Headaches and Hyperflexion
It’s common for whiplash patients to have long periods of headaches resulting from strained muscles. A process of hyperflexion takes place when the neck goes beyond the extent of its natural position and range of motion. The hyperflexion phase also impacts the closing of our jaw, which puts pressure on the temporomandibular joint and can lead to TMJ dysfunction (TMD). In long term or chronic whiplash, migraines might be triggered due to the damages sustained by the jaw joint.
TMJ and Tinnitus
You may feel numbness, dizziness, and/or have tinnitus, which is one of the most common symptoms of whiplash. Tinnitus is characterized by a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. These neurological conditions happen due to herniated discs as a result of the accident. The exposure of the disc in this manner causes it to overlap with the surrounding nerves, sending stinging pain down the arms, numbness and muscle weakness.
If whiplash treatment is prolonged for a few weeks or more, anxiety and depression is common. It can become difficult to accomplish certain tasks, and constant pain can hamper our daily routines which leads to a feeling of demotivation among patients.
The tendons and ligaments in our neck are damaged during whiplash, so we need to ensure that our cervical spine (neck) recovers quickly. It’s important to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor as early as possible after an accident in order to reduce recovery time and reduce prolonged damage. There are also a few ways to help protect your neck while going through chiropractic care:
- Don’t keep your neck stagnant, move it slowly. Keeping the neck mobile will help with recovery.
- Adopt a good posture by keeping your upper back and neck upright. This will relieve pressure from your spine.
- Despite having the cervical collar, use a pillow to support your neck.
- Ask us about various neck movements that will speed up the recovery process.
Dr. Ryan Pilsner, D.C. has helped thousands of patients in Fort Collins find relief under his care. With his qualifications and experience, he can guide you through whiplash treatment and help speed up and strengthen your recovery. Visit our chiropractic office by scheduling a free screening or calling us at (970) 377-3557 today.