Whiplash often conjures up images of people in neck braces in courtrooms. Well, that’s the Hollywood version. In reality, whiplash is one of the least understood conditions, and that can be problematic given that whiplash can also be a severe medical problem with long-term consequences.
At Allcare Chiropractic, we help our patients overcome a host of musculoskeletal problems, including whiplash, by providing expert treatment and guidance. As part of this effort, we believe that the more you know, the better able you are to help yourself heal more quickly and safely, with an active, healthy life as the goal.
With that in mind, Dr. Jonathan Nou and his Allcare team have pulled together the following list of myths and important facts about whiplash.
Whiplash comes on the heels of a rapid back-and-forth movement of your head and neck, which is what gives the condition its name. While your neck can stand a lot of stress, it’s not designed for sudden whipping motions, which greatly strain the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and can also cause damage to your cervical discs.
A car accident, especially one where you’re rear-ended, is a classic cause of whiplash, but this condition can also occur on the playing field after a hard hit or as a result of physical abuse.
In other words, if you’ve been in any situation where your head was rocked violently back and forth and you’re feeling sore, whiplash might be at play.
As we mentioned at the beginning, many think of neck braces when they hear the word “whiplash.” While we want you to go easy on your neck for the first 24-48 hours, it’s terribly important to move your neck carefully after that or you risk further soreness because of tightened soft tissue.
We put you through a series of exercises that gently help your neck recover without seizing up. It’s important that you exercise your neck under the watchful eye of one of our highly trained physical therapists, or you run the risk of doing more harm than good.
In most cases, the symptoms of whiplash develop within 24 hours of the initial accident or trauma. These symptoms may include muscle soreness, stiffness, headaches, fatigue, and radiating numbness or tingling in your arms.
Some people, though, may experience symptoms days or even weeks after the precipitating incident. Your body works very hard to protect you from pain and injury and throws all of its resources at the problem. For a time, these resources may work, but if the damage runs too deep, your body may not have what’s necessary and you can start to develop delayed symptoms.
One of the biggest myths surrounding whiplash is that it takes a hard hit. Your neck is incredibly strong, and amazingly delicate, and sometimes all it takes is a mild force to create the whipping motion in your neck. In fact, whiplash can occur in slow-motion car accidents under 10 mph.
Believe it or not, you can have the fanciest car in the world, touting incredible safety features, but the position of your headrest is far more important. Yes, you should always look for highly rated head restraints when shopping for a vehicle, but when you first get in and adjust everything to your liking, don’t forget your headrests.
First, raise your headrest so it’s level with, or slightly higher than, your head. Adjust your headrest so that it’s closer to your head, shortening the distance of impact. You should also keep your seatback upright to close the gap to your headrest.
While the above represents just a few myths and facts about whiplash, they’re a good place to start. If you have more questions, or you suspect you may have whiplash, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to book a consultation.
If you've experienced intense whiplash, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool on our website to set up an appointment at one of our three locations.