Whiplash is a common injury that results from movement of the head suddenly backward and forward, with acceleration and deceleration. Whiplash is known as a hyperextension injury in which the primary problem is the backward position of the neck as some force pushes the torso frontwards. When the victim recovers from this position, the head and neck move forward or flexed position it is commonly associated with car accidents, but may be caused by shaking, sports injury or work related mishaps. Whiplash may be the result of a sideways movement of the head.
The experience of a sudden excessive movement of the head, which weighs about 10 pounds, causes strong muscular contraction in the muscles of the neck and movement of the cervical spine, the uppermost part of the spinal column that is joined to the skull by two articulating vertebrae of unusual shape known as the atlas and axis.
The contraction of the muscles of the neck is a normal reaction to abnormal movement and is meant to serve a protective function. The vertebrae of the neck are aligned one on top of the other, held in place or alignment by ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Whiplash movements may damage the discs that form a protective cushion between the vertebrae of the neck. You may suffer injury such a herniation of the disc, which results in nerve root impingement and pain in the area served by the nerve. Sometimes weakness or numbness occurs. The nerve of the neck serve the upper trunk and the arms, hands, and fingers.
Whiplash can potentially cause damage to the muscles or ligaments, including partial or complete tear, and muscular spasm may occur most commonly in whiplash injuries. Muscle spasm is very uncomfortable and may result in limitation of range of motion of your head and neck.
Symptoms of whiplash depend upon the force of the injury and will vary in severity, with many patients recovering quickly with conservative chiropractic care. Other patients may experience chronic symptoms for years, including pain and stiffness. Neurological symptoms from disc impingement on nerve roots that exit the cervical spinal column and innervate the arms and upper trunk may cause tingling, weakness in the hands or arms, and numbness that last for years.
After a whiplash, the pain and inflammation increase on the second or third day. Some typical symptoms include, in addition to neck pain and stiffness, shoulder pain, dizziness, headaches, visual changes, ringing in the ears and back pain. Also, psychological symptoms may appear, such as mood changes, nightmares of the accident, anxiety and post traumatic disorder. I realize that we have gone beyond 5 symptoms to watch out for and should not be ignored, but I will list 5 of the major symptoms not to be ignored.
1. Numbness into the arms
2. Headaches that wake you up at night
3. Ringing in the ear
4. Jaw pain
If you have a whiplash injury and are in need of treatment please feel free to call 763-251-PAIN, we are here to help the local residents in Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Champlin, Maple Grove, Columbia Heights and surrounding Twin Cities area.