Understanding Whiplash Injuries Of The Neck

Whiplash injuries can be very painful and debilitating. Neck and shoulder pain are common symptoms that follow a whiplash injury. Proper treatment can help prevent these problems from becoming chronic. Muscle spasms result from strained neck muscles and irritated nerves. It is not uncommon for the injured person to experience tingling and numbness into the hands as well. Our head weighs approximately 10 pounds and is supported by muscles that connect deep into the shoulders. Damage occurs to the muscles when the head is jerked around in an accident. People often use muscle relaxers to help.

While these may help with the symptoms, they may not address deeper problems in the neck. Other structures may be injured in addition to the muscles. Some of these might include the nerves, ligaments or joints in the neck. Ligaments act like duct tape to hold the joints in their proper position and prevent slippage.

Whiplash injuries can cause ligaments to lose their elasticity. Normal elasticity of ligaments helps to provide a boundary for proper movement. An example of this is when you bend your fingers backwards. The ligaments in your fingers help to prevent you from bending the fingers back too far causing the bones to break.

Ligaments allow for a safe range of motion in the joint. Ligaments generally do not heal as quickly because they have less blood supply than muscles. When ligaments are damaged, the joints may become unstable because of the lack of support. The joints may become misaligned. Nerves that exist in and around the joints may become irritated.

Ligaments like this exist in the neck to prevent excessive motion of the cervical spine. These ligaments are extremely important in the neck to hold the vertebrae together and prevent instability of the joints. These ligaments are vulnerable to injury in a car accident. Damage to the ligaments can be detected on MRI. An MRI can show the tear of the ligament and inflammation in the area.

X-rays can also detect ligament damage and are more cost effective than an MRI. Flexion and extension x-rays are the standard x-rays used to diagnose ligament instability in the neck. The x-rays are taken while the patient bends their head forward and back. The x-rays show if there is excessive movement of the vertebrae which means there is damage of the ligaments.

Chiropractors are a good option for treatment of whiplash injuries. Chiropractors are trained to perform a detailed history and exam to determine the extent of the problem and the best treatment for the injury. Chiropractic adjustments help to correct misaligned bones and mobilize fixated segments that may be overloading the area of instability in the neck. They also perform therapy modalities to help heal muscles and injured soft tissue. They can also recommend special posture training and exercises to help heal the area injured.