Surprise! You’ve Got Whiplash
By Sara Butler
Whiplash has basically become synonymous with automobile accidents, but I swear I had a minor whiplash injury just from seeing that Starbucks cup in Game of Thrones last week.
Yes, there’s more than one way to get whiplash -- you don’t have to be in a moving vehicle for it to happen. Whiplash can be serious and cause health problems that can last for months or even years, which is why it’s important for you to know all the strange, eyebrow-raising, and curious ways whiplash can happen to you.
What Is Whiplash?
The American Chiropractic Society refers to whiplash injuries as hyper-extension injuries of the neck. That’s a chiropractic fancy-task description for neck muscles that have been pulled or pushed beyond their normal range.
It generally happens when your body moves forward with force while your head, well, doesn’t move forward at the same speed. It then gets snapped forward and then back (or vice versa) to keep up. I kind of like to imagine it like an old cartoon in which the protagonist runs off a cliff and their body falls while their neck stretches before it’s finally snapped back to their body on the way down. Ouch!!!
When this happens outside of the cartoon world, this stretching strains the ligaments and muscles in the neck, causing headaches, pain, stiffness, and mobility issues.
Some Surprising Ways to Get Whiplash
You may not be running off any cliffs as you chase roadrunners, but there are a few things you probably do that put you at risk for whiplash injuries. Some of the more interesting ways this can happen include:
- Dancing - This one is for all you headbangers out there. We understand that sometimes you just feel the music and rock out on your air guitar, but be aware it can cause whiplash injuries. In fact, any type of dancing, from ballroom to the jitterbug, can cause whiplash if you’re not careful.
- Sports - This one is probably a little more obvious than the others, especially when it comes to contact sports such as football, but it’s not just contact sports that can cause issues. Skiing can cause whiplash, snowboarding too. Horse riding, cycling, martial arts, and even diving can all cause whiplash injuries -- so be careful out there. Oh, and auto racing, but then we’re getting back to cars.
- Theme park rides - You probably love the thrills of a good theme park ride, but they can be risky too. While most theme parks have to abide by safety standards, that doesn’t mean whiplash can’t happen. Anything that’s jerky and fast such as roller coasters and bumper cars can trigger whiplash.
- Slipping, falling, or tripping - These accidents can result in unexpected, sudden movements that make whiplash a strong possibility. Just think about the last time you didn’t see that curb -- your neck probably felt a little strange after, huh?
- Assault - This last one is no laughing matter. While assault can result in a variety of injuries, it’s important to note that whiplash is one of them. If you’re thrown to the floor, pushed, or struck on the head, then you’re at risk. Even if an object is thrown at you, it can cause symptoms of whiplash.
What You Should Do
It may not sound like a big deal to get a whiplash injury, but it is. These types of injuries are not well understood in the public at large but the symptoms can be very debilitating. Stiffness in the neck, pain in the jaw, shoulder, or neck, and headaches can all be the result of a whiplash injury.
If you suspect you have whiplash or if you’ve recently had an accident or had a little too much fun at your local theme park, come see the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic for an evaluation. The sooner you begin treating whiplash, the better the outcome can be.
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