To suffer from chronic back pain is one of the singlemost common ailments in Americans today. According to WebMD, over $86 Billion is spent on back and neck pain each year with a major spike of 65% between the late 90's and 2005. Dr. Joseph Mills of West Hills Chiropractic Center of Huntington NY shares his concepts and experience-based revelations on one of America's most sought after healing arts.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
WHIPLASH – CAUSES AND TREATMENT
Whiplash is a non-medical expression used to describe
relatively common injuries caused to a human’s neck because of sudden and
unrestrained forward and backward movement of neck and head after a rapid
acceleration-deceleration force. This type of injury is usually a result of
motor vehicle accidents. This type of neck injury affects both soft tissues and
the bone structure of the neck. Whiplash associated disorders is a term used to
describe a more chronic and severe condition. Typically, whiplash is not a life
threatening injury but it might lead to a partial disability for a long time. Most
of the people who sustain such injuries might not experience such long term
pains but some might experience pains even after years of the accident.
The most common cause of a whiplash injury is a motor
vehicle accident especially when a person is in a static car and is hit from behind
by another vehicle in motion. After sustaining a rare impact, the lower bones
of the neck (lower cervical vertebrae) go into a hyperextension position while
the upper bones of the neck (upper cervical vertebrae) are hyperflexed. These
movements cause the cervical spine to assume an abnormal S-Shape. It is this
abnormal movement that damages the soft tissues that hold the muscles, facet
capsules, and ligament of the cervical vertebrae together. Severe impact can
also cause several other injuries to the nerve roots, cervical muscles,
ligaments, discs, and intervertebral joints.
The most common symptom of whiplash is muscle stiffness and
pain in neck. The symptoms largely depend on the severity of the injury but the
symptoms and signs may include:
·Swelling in neck
·Difficulty in rotating, extending, or flexing
·Difficulty in chewing due to tightness of jaw
·Disturbance in sleep
·Tinnitus (ringing in ear)
·Weakness in arms
·Pain in arms
The more chronic and severe case of “whiplash associated disorder”
may include the following symptoms:
·Insomnia (disturbance in sleep)
·Post traumatic stress disorder
·Dependency on drugs
The treatment of whiplash injury depends upon the symptoms present
in the patient. The most important factor in managing and treating whiplash is
to educate the patients about their condition. This would include knowledge of the
cause, possible treatments, and their outcomes. Patients should understand that
this is not something that they can simply ignore, but that almost all the
patients fully recover. Patients who are not well aware of the situation might
develop severe “whiplash associated disorder.”
In the past, the initial cure for whiplash was usually a
soft cervical collar that the patient had to wear for several weeks. The aim
was to control the range of motion of the neck in order to avoid any additional
injuries. But after more recent studies, it became evident that immobilization
of neck for a long time can slow the process of healing. In case there is no
evidence of abnormal alignment of the spine, then early range of movement is
Patients who are treated with exercises for early range of
motion have exhibited rapid improvement, and more reliable improvement in all
their symptoms. On the other hand, decrease in the range of motion leads to
increased stiffness and pain. Immobilization may also cause decrease in the
blood flow to the injured soft tissues, muscle atrophy, and healing the muscles
in shortened range which makes that less flexible.
Physical therapy can also be very useful to aid patients
wean from a cervical collar and to help them strength their muscles. Occupational
therapies can also be used to help patents return to their work environments.
In case the patients start to develop psychological symptoms
such as depression, anxiety, and anger after sustaining the injury then it is
advised that the emotional condition should be promptly treated. This will help
patients understand their chances of complete recovery and will also reduce
their chances of developing chronic symptoms.
Factors That Can Affect the Prognosis of Whiplash Injury
Following are some of the risk factors that can influence
the prognosis of this injury:
·The symptoms and pain of Whiplash persisting
beyond the duration of 6 months.
·Significant joint capsule, nerve, disc and
·Patient being older than 65 years of age.
·Need to restart treatment due to more than one
bout of pain.
·Delay in starting the treatment.
·Injury was sustained in a small car.
·Head restraint was more than 2” far from the
head of occupant.
·The occupant was under the influence of alcohol
at the time of the accident.
·The occupant already had a previous whiplash
·Pre-existing evidence of degenerative changes.
·Use of cervical collar for more than 2 weeks.
·Initial radicular (tingling, numbness, arm pain)
·A previous fusion cervical spine.
The symptoms of the injury may appear in 2 to 3 days of the
injury or immediately after it.