Dr. Beverly Foster
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Chiropractic Health & Rehabilitation

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a common name for an injury where the neck is “whipped” – when there is a sudden hyper-extension (rapid backward motion) followed by sudden hyper-flexion (rapid forward motion).

Whiplash can occur when the body pitches forward suddenly from a stumble, fall or other accident. It happens most typically in auto “rear-enders.” The driver of the front car, usually unsuspecting and relaxed, is hit by the force of another car slamming into him from behind. The driver’s (and/or passenger’s) head first snaps backward and then forward by the quick stopping motion. This whipping motion usually strains or tears the muscles, ligaments and soft tissues of the neck and frequently injures the cervical spine as well.

Will I know if I get a serious whiplash injury?

Yes, but not always right away. You probably will feel immediate pain, but sometimes the symptoms take hours, or even days, to show up. Reactions to whiplash might include a stiff and painful neck, severe restriction of movement of the head and neck, shoulder and arm pain, headaches, visual disturbance and others whether or not you feel the immediate symptoms, it’s wise to be checked by your chiropractor as soon as possible. Whiplash has potentially serious complications.

How can I avoid whiplash injuries?

For one thing, make sure that the headrests in your car are high enough to touch your skull. This can help prevent whiplash injury if you are rear-ended. Adjust their height for different drivers and passengers. Be aware, too, of unsafe or erratic drivers, particularly those behind you, and try to avoid them. Practice defensive driving.

If you do suffer this most common accident, use ice packs on your neck, rather than heat, during the first hours and see your chiropractor immediately. Chiropractic care might include the use of ice packs, cervical support through a soft foam collar, moist heat and other physiological therapeutics, with specific manipulation to restore normal motion, function and alignment of the cervical vertebrae as soon as indicated.