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Oakland Spine News

10 Facts You Should Know About Whiplash (Part 2)

Last month, we reviewed the #1-5 of “10 facts” that you should know about whiplash. Here are #6-10!

  1. “Rest = rust” when it comes to whiplash: When we hurt, we often instinctively choose rest over activity, as we may be afraid that any activity will make the pain worse. But after just a few days of rest, both our injured AND healthy muscles become stiff and weak, which prolongs the healing process. Most studies show that returning to normal activity as soon as possible results in faster healing and resolution of pain. Also, the longer you remain inactive, the greater the chance for chronic pain to develop, which can result in permanent problems. We will guide you GRADUALLY back into normal, desired activities. DON’T LET PAIN OR THE FEAR OF PAIN keep you from getting on with life! This is both physically and mentally harmful!
  2. You don’t have to be in a car to get whiplash: Even though car crashes account for the majority of whiplash injuries, a slip and fall or participating in a high-impact sport such as football, snowboarding, skiing, boxing, soccer, or gymnastics can result in head/neck trauma, which is more common than you think! With this said, other conditions, such as concussion, can occur in car crashes even if you don’t hit your head! The term, “mild traumatic brain injury” or MTBI is frequently used when it pertains to car crashes. Here, common symptoms include difficulty finding words to express yourself, losing your place when talking, and difficulty concentrating, focusing, and communicating. Many people are self-conscious about these types of problems and often do not discuss them with their doctor!
  3. Aging increases the risk of whiplash injuries: The elderly are more likely to suffer from a whiplash injury compared with younger individuals. This is because as we age, we lose flexibility in the joints, muscles, and tendons in the neck. This REDUCES the ability for these tissues to stretch, making them MORE likely to be injured during the whiplash process. Also, the shock-absorbing cushions between our vertebrae (the intervertebral disks) lose their water content and literally dry up and crack as we age. This, along with the gradual onset of osteoarthritis in our joints, results in a reduced cervical range of motion.
  4. Females are at greater risk of injury than males: This is because there is simply less neck muscle mass and strength among medium built females vs. males. This difference is even more dramatic in slender-necked females. Add the age component to this and the older slender female neck is particularly vulnerable to a cervical spine injury due to whiplash.
  5. DO NOT ignore symptoms: Although most neck-injured crash victims experience immediate pain, some do not. This delay in symptom onset can be hours, days, and even sometimes weeks! Although it’s “human nature” to procrastinate and NOT seek immediate chiropractic care, you should! Studies show that the longer you wait, the longer it may take to help you! Also, in most cases, neck pain should gradually improve within the first month or two, but this does not always happen. The longer pain persists, the lower the odds for resolution, especially if the pain has lasted more than six months. Persisting symptoms may include (but are not limited to) headache, fatigue, shoulder pain, blurred vision, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, communicating, sleeping and/or swallowing. BOTTOM LINE: COME IN ASAP after the crash as prompt care yields the best results!