If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know how scary it can be. Sometimes people “walk away” with no injuries and feel fine. However, after days, weeks, and months go by, sometimes the symptoms slowly start to creep in. Whiplash is a common injury that occurs during car accidents, and it is caused by the fast movement of the spine in an unnatural way due to excessive force.
The reason for this delay is that your body relies on a defense mechanism to get through really difficult or stressful times. Your body releases adrenaline which allows you to power through, recover, and not feel pain at that moment. However, down the road, after the adrenaline wears off, the symptoms start showing up. These symptoms that creep up after a car accident are usually headaches, neck pain, stiffness, back pain, and even vertigo in some cases.
What happens during a car accident?
When you are driving at an accelerated rate and then suddenly come to a stop, your neck goes through a range of motion beyond the natural ability. This force causes damage to the soft tissue and results in your body having swelling, inflammation, and misalignments.
Eventually, scar tissue will begin to build up to repair the damage in that area. The most vulnerable part of your body is the upper part of your neck where your skull meets your spine. This is known as the upper cervical spine. Even in an accident as slow as 20 mph, the forceful movement can cause damage to the ligaments and muscles in your neck. When you damage and lose function in this part of your neck, it can drastically affect signals from your body to your brain. This results in pain signals being sent to the brain and that is when you experience pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
What does whiplash do?
Whiplash is a fast movement of your spine in an unnatural way due to excessive force. When you get hit from behind by a car, or if you rear-end someone, the momentum from the cars hitting each other continues to travel throughout your body. Even though you might feel fine immediately afterward, there is a lot of underlying damage that could happen and it will get worse over time if you don’t address it right away. First, the soft tissue like the muscles and ligaments that are holding your spine together might get strained or sprained. This is because they are pushed beyond their natural limit.
When these soft tissues are stretched, it also allows the disc between the vertebrae to get damaged. These discs between your bones are soft, and they can get damaged to the point where they are affecting nerves. This is when people start to feel numbness or tingling in their arms or legs. Getting treatment for these damaged parts of your spine is essential to ensure that you do not have bigger, more serious issues in the future.
How do I know if I have whiplash?
You might have experienced whiplash if you were recently in an accident. This doesn’t have to be just a car accident either. You could experience whiplash if you had a fall skiing or snowboarding, got hit by a wave while in the ocean, or otherwise had your head rocked backward from a force like in football or lacrosse.
Whiplash is more common than you may think. People who experience whiplash often first notice pain or stiffness in their necks. They suddenly are unable to turn their head back all the way when they are backing out of a parking spot. Then, they may start to feel more pain or stiffness traveling down their shoulders, back, or arms. This may also feel like numbness or tingling traveling into the hands or fingers. Another common symptom of whiplash is headaches and migraines. When the neck is forced in an unnatural way, the damage can travel from the neck all the way up to the skull and brain leading to headaches.
What do I do now?
If you have been in an accident and experienced whiplash, the best thing you can do is see a chiropractor. A chiropractor is specifically trained and educated to evaluate and treat the neck, back, and structures of the spine. An upper cervical chiropractor will do a thorough examination of your spine to figure out what has been damaged by the whiplash.
After this, they will take X-rays to see exactly what’s going on and where things may be misaligned. Your chiropractor will create a treatment plan for your specific situation and get you on track to feeling better. They will continue to see you as your body begins to heal so that you can get back to living your life without pain and restriction. The sooner that you get care, the sooner you will be able to get back to being YOU!
If you are in or around the Cranberry Township area and are looking for a resource to help. In that case, you can visit us at the Revive Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Our practice is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm; Wednesday from 1 pm to 6 pm. You can also drop by on Fridays between 9 am to 12 noon.
To schedule a consultation with Revive Upper Cervical Chiropractic, call 724-772-7060, or fill out the form below.
And so if you have any questions on that, please leave them in the comments section below. If you are outside of the greater Pittsburgh area, check out our referral map, https://www.reviveucc.com/referralmap/ and we’ll help you find a professional in your area.
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