Whiplash is an injury of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves) in the neck, due to the head being forced forward, backward, or sideways, typically caused by a car accident. Muscles, tendons and ligaments in the spine may be forced beyond their normal limits which causes micro-trauma to the neck.
Q: If whiplash affects my neck, why do I have pain in my arms and hands?
A. The spinal cord branches off into nerves that proceed to the different parts of your body, including the arms and hands. If the part of your neck that has been injured corresponds to the nerves that service your arms and hands, that is where you will feel pain, or numbness and tingling. Even lower back pain could be a result of the neck injury or due to the loss of proper spinal curvature.
Q: Why did it take over a week after the accident for symptoms to appear?
A. Your body is constantly acclimating to the atmosphere and environment it's experiencing. When your ability to adapt has depleted, symptoms appear. This could be days, weeks, months, or even years after an automobile accident. Because of that it's very important to get a chiropractic evaluation as soon as you're able after the collision so the delay in symptoms don't create long lasting affects.
Q: Why do minor 'fender benders' cause so much stress to the spine?
A. The more extreme the accident, the more energy is absorbed into the vehicle, the smaller the collision the most energy is directly transferred to the driver and passengers.
Q: Can I prevent whiplash?
A. Because automobile accidents are the main cause of whiplash, defensive driving skills can help. Be sure your taillights and blinkers are functioning properly. Allow a reasonable stopping distance in front of you. When you slow down or stop, always check your mirrors to see if the driver behind you is paying attention. Even if you do all these things, preventing whiplash is not 100% possible, although regular chiropractic adjustments make the spine more pliable and able to recover from an accident quicker.