Whiplash is a soft tissue injury caused by sudden jarring of the head and neck in any direction. Whiplash is most commonly caused by rear-end car accidents, but can also be due to sports accidents, falls or physical abuse, amongst other things. The muscles, tendons, ligaments and discs in the neck are all affected by whiplash as they suddenly flex and extend causing an overstretch.
The symptoms of whiplash can occur immediately, but can also take up to months or even years to appear. Did you know when you suffer from whiplash from even the smallest car accident or injury, it can take up to 15-20 years for your neck to become symptomatic or painful?
More common symptoms right after an injury include:
- Neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Reduced or complete loss of range of motion
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Ringing in the ears
Other symptoms that can take years to manifest include:
- Stiffness and tightness in the neck and shoulders
- Numbness and tingling that radiates down one or both arms
- Jaw pain
- Muscle weakness
- Poor concentration
Why are these symptoms so delayed?
When your neck is jolted from a whiplash injury it injures the outer disc fibres usually around your mid to lower neck. This injury accelerates disc degeneration at those levels overtime and changes spinal alignment. The alignment of the neck is called a cervical lordotic curvature. It is important as it acts like a tension-loaded spring – with discs acting like shock-absorbers. When this spring is not aligned, the discs in the neck wear out prematurely and the joints in the spine start to degenerate. The ligaments in the neck are also important as they keep the vertebrae in place, and when they are overstretched and damaged, it causes a loss of ligament control which allows the spine to move excessively, further accelerating degeneration, or wear and tear.
So how can we help?
Gentle Chiropractic spinal adjustments can clear restrictions at the degenerated level, restore spinal curvature, create some extra space for any irritated nerves to move freely through and also trigger some nutrient flow back to the degenerated discs.
Want to learn more or create a treatment plan for your whiplash injury?
Speak to your Unwind Health Chiropractor about how they can help.
Dr Jessica Beydoun