Whiplash is a commonly thrown around term, but very few people actually understand what the term refers to and what that can mean for their health. Today, Barfield Chiropractic in Murfreesboro will explain this infamous type of neck pain, what it is, what it isn’t, and what you need to know!
A Crash Course on Whiplash
Strain vs Sprain
While a sprain may sound like a term better suited for an ankle than a type of neck pain, a sprain is actually just the gearing and damage of ligaments that connect bone to bone, whether it be in the neck, ankle, or elsewhere. In contrast, a strain is damage to the muscle itself or the tendons that directly tie muscle to bone. While these may sound similar, the pain felt and treatment pursued for the two are very different; those in a car accident may claim they have whiplash – a commonly used term for a specific type of neck strain – but instead have a sprain in the vertebrae of their neck.
Circumstances of Whiplash
As mentioned above, whiplash is a specific type of neck strain, but not the only possible way to strain the muscles around your neck; in fact, you have likely minorly strained your neck muscles by working out a little harder than usual or when moving furniture. When talking about whiplash specifically, many people think this refers only to car accidents, but whiplash can happen in a number of circumstances, such as:
- Car accidents, especially collisions from directly ahead or behind in which the seatbelt or momentum caused the person’s head to lurch forward and then “whip” backward
- Extreme sports injuries, such as those obtained on skis, bikes, skateboards, surfboards, and more
- Cheerleading, gymnastics, rugby, hockey, and especially football players at every level are at risk for whiplash
- Rollercoasters and other theme park rides can easily cause whiplash, especially in the event of a malfunction or sudden stoppage
- Falling from any height over a few feet, especially if one’s head bounces off of the ground
Basically, whiplash can be caused by anything that can involve you lunging forward with high momentum, only to snap backward. While most incidents are caused by car accidents, it is common to see people report neck pain that they have no idea is actually whiplash. Because of this, many whiplash sufferers may be aggravating their condition without realizing it.
One of the things that makes whiplash so dangerous and tough to self-diagnose is the fact that it often doesn’t set in right away. For instance, if one were to break their arm, it would be pretty obvious within a matter of seconds that something wasn’t quite right – and why. In contrast, whiplash often doesn’t present even minor pain until days or weeks later. To make matters worse, the pain often starts out as an annoyance and gradually increases over time. Our Murfreesboro chiropractic patients commonly report neck pain that is making it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position, bothers them in the early morning, or just generally feels tense; they are usually surprised when we inquire about sports injuries or vehicle collisions around the time it began, only to find out they’ve suffered from whiplash without having realized it.
If you’ve been in a collision or had a sports injury that has left you feeling sore, even if it were weeks ago, you should absolutely visit Barfield Chiropractic in Murfreesboro. Not only is there a chance that your neck pain is the result of whiplash, but sometimes the damage from whiplash can require long-term treatment to avoid chronic, occasionally permanent pain. By visiting our chiropractor as soon as you begin to feel neck pain, you can get the documentation and diagnosis you need to understand your situation and potentially fight your case. Remember, vehicle insurance companies will be quick to offer you a settlement or claim rate to close up the case, effectively shutting the door on a whiplash claim if it is settled before you know your situation. This can be the difference between you getting an 8,000 dollar settlement to cover your vehicle damage and a 90,000 dollar settlement or court-awarded amount to cover your ongoing medical expenses and overall inconvenience. While it may sound dramatic to seek out such a large sum, if you receive nothing, but have to seek regular treatment for your ongoing neck pain, it can add up to a large amount of inconvenience and medical costs that should not be your responsibility.
Lasting Effects of Whiplash
As mentioned above, there are some ongoing effects that whiplash can have, even after the muscles and tendons have healed from the initial damage. The knotting and strain your neck has been put under can cause more than just an aching pain, but can instead have a long-term effect on how your neck interacts with surrounding tissues. For instance, in addition to chronic neck pain, patients commonly suffer from the following:
- Regular, often severe or debilitating headaches
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), a condition that causes the jaw to lock or click and can require specialized mouth guards, physical therapy, and more
- Other back and spine pain and misalignment
- Brain trauma, including dizziness, sleep disturbances, irritability, or even something as extreme as a completely altered personality or identity
Treating with Chiropractic Care
There are a number of effective ways to treat whiplash, many of which vary in effectiveness based upon how severe the damage is. However, without a doubt, the best way to treat whiplash in the short- and long-term is to seek chiropractic care. In conjunction with massage, medication, and the patient’s commitment to recovery, chiropractic treatment is effective at relieving neck pain and ensuring that lasting damage is minimal or completely negated. Additionally, chiropractors are widely considered to be the field experts in whiplash diagnosis and treatment, making their recommendation or prognosis a valuable tool in negotiating with insurance companies or other at-fault parties for fair compensation. We recommend documenting your experience from start to finish and working with your chiropractor’s treatment plan throughout your recovery period.
While often whiplash sufferers are alone when they encounter whatever caused their condition, when there are more than one person in the exact same scenario, it is not uncommon for some to walk out relatively unscathed, while others have moderate to severe whiplash. This is largely due to the fact that the muscles and tendon in your neck can be conditioned to better resist the damage of whiplash through exercise and regular chiropractic or massage treatments, even in the absence of neck pain. While not everyone needs to seek chiropractic or massage care regularly, those with existing neck pain will find it far easier to encounter whiplash, and, as a result, more difficult to plead their case for an insurance claim. Of course, the best way to limit whiplash exposure is to avoid dangerous circumstances by driving more safely and only playing contact sports with the proper protective gear and supervision.
Reach Out Today
If you have neck pain and are unsure if you’re suffering from whiplash, do not hesitate to contact Barfield Chiropractic in Murfreesboro. We can help with neck pain, regardless of the source, but provide you with ample resources and information if you happen to be a whiplash victim.