Whiplash is an injury that chiropractors around the world are used to treating. Whiplash is most typically associated with motor vehicle accidents but it can also occur from sporting accidents. The anterior longitudinal ligament that runs down the front of the spine is particularly at risk during rapid impact. Studies have shown that whiplash injuries can also constrict blood flow to the brain, leading to light-headedness, poor concentration and fatigue.
Dr. Arthur Croft, researcher and co-author of the well-respected textbook, Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome notes: “We had an extremely simplistic view of whiplash-you got hit from the rear; your head snapped back, which may have caused damage to ligaments, muscles, and tendons; your head snapped forward, which may have caused some additional damage; and then you had symptoms…”
Research suggests that during a motor vehicle rear-end collision, the lower neck goes into hyperextension, while the upper goes into flexion. This means the bottom and top parts of the neck are going in opposite directions during the initial phase of an accident that leads to whiplash, causing the neck to form the letter ‘S’.
In a 6.5g impact, for example, the motion between C7 and T1 vertebrae is supposed to be about two degrees, but research shows that the joint is moving about 20 degrees – or 10 times more than it is supposed to.
Whiplash happens so fast the timing of the accident beats the dynamic of the muscles that would normally protect the joints. Joints that are supposed to only move 2 degrees can move up to 20 degrees. Neck muscles kick in to protect the joints in approximately two-tenths of a second, but even this not quick enough during a car accident.
These two recent articles provide more information about whiplash and Chiropractic care.
Dr Sarah MacNeil
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