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Whiplash From A Chiropractic Perspective

Whiplash is a common injury yet there are many complicated issues surrounding it. In the past it was regarded as a cut and dry medical complaint. The head jerked back from being hit in the rear, damage occurred to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles; then the head shot forward, causing even more damage, and symptoms were the result.

Nowadays, research has shown that whiplash is a more complex disorder than previously thought. New studies show that when a rear-end collision happens, the lower neck is forced into hyperextension while the upper neck goes into flexion. This results in the lower and upper parts of the neck jerking in opposite directions simultaneously during the first part of whiplash, causing the neck to take on a shape like the letter “S”. The lower part of the neck is frequently the part that receives the most damage and causes the most complaints. This is due to the joints in the area moving 10 times more than they are supposed to.

This “S” shaped distortion of the neck during whiplash effects specialized part of the neck called facet-joint capsules and the annulus of the disc. Chiropractic spinal manipulation treat these areas especially well because it biomechanically treats the deep tissues surrounding these areas.

Unfortunately, due to the association with vehicle crashes, insurance compensation claims, and legal issues, whiplash has historically been and continues to be a disorder that is viewed with suspicion by many. The fact that it results in very real chronic neck pain is often overlooked when these other factors cloud the issue, and the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for this neck pain is sometimes downplayed. 

This denial of whiplash can have dangerously far reaching effects due to the fact that left untreated it can lead to other chronic conditions like blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, thoracic outlet syndrome, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Fibromyalgia alone is the third most common disorder diagnosed my US rheumatologists, and many cases can be traced to an earlier incidence of whiplash.

As treatment for whiplash move forward into the future it is likely that research will continue to show the effectiveness of chiropractic therapy for its treatment. Technology is also already evolving to help prevent further incidences of whiplash by making mechanical changes to car seat and head restraint design by such auto manufactures as Volvo and Saab. 

Despite all the complications surrounding whiplash, it at least has done much to show the effectiveness of chiropractic care.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Chris Brown

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