When you get whiplash, you’ll understand what caused it. But you may not sense the indications of it until later. Symptoms can appear as soon following your auto accident or other injury as two hours, but you may experience symptoms that begin slightly and gradually become worse. Symptoms can sometimes grow days, weeks, or even months after the first injury.
The primary symptom of whiplash is neck or upper back pain. It’s also possible to experience other symptoms, like:
- Shoulder and arm pain
- Tenderness or stiffness
- Numbness and/or tingling
- Blurry vision
Most just described, whiplash is caused by a movement or force that makes your neck move beyond its normal range of motion. Cervical spine, or your neck, has an incredible range of movement. It is the moveable part of your spine, but still, the neck to go beyond its normal range can be caused by whiplash.
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What Causes Whiplash Associated Diseases?
There is one major cause of whiplash that most everyone thinks of instantly: car accidents. Even rates as low as 15 miles per hour can create enough energy to cause whiplash—whether or not you’re wearing a seatbelt. (Nevertheless, if you’re not properly held along with your seatbelt, your head may strike the steering wheel or windshield, causing a concussion in addition to whiplash. You should definitely always wear your seatbelt.)
A 8 miles per hour car crash generates two times the force of gravity (or a 2-G) deceleration of the car, and a 5-G deceleration of the head. This unnatural and forceful movement impacts the muscles and ligaments in the neck, stretching and possibly ripping them. The discs involving the vertebrae can bulge, tear, or rupture, and vertebrae can be forced from their normal location, lowering your range of movement. The spinal cord and nerve roots could get extended, irritated, and “choked.”
Athletic actions, falls, roller coasters can also causes whiplash, or from shaken or being punched.
Aging also makes us more susceptible to whiplash. People who have neck issues like arthritis, and mature individuals, may experience whiplash that is more serious than the usual younger man. As people get older, their movement is more limited, their muscles lose flexibility and strength, and their disks and ligaments aren’t elastic (stretchy). Thus, when their neck whips back and forth, it’s more potential for damage.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Neck Pain and Auto Injury
After being involved in an automobile accident, the sheer force of the impact can often cause whiplash, a common type of neck injury resulting from the sudden, back-and-forth motion of the head against the body due to a car wreck, or other incident. Because of this, many of the complex structures found within the neck, including the spine, ligaments and muscles, can be stretched beyond their normal range, causing injury and painful symptoms.
The information herein on "The Causes and Symptoms of Whiplash Associated Diseases" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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