It is estimated that each and every year, approximately three million people experience a whiplash injury in the United States. Most often these injuries are the result of car accidents, but there are a number of different mechanisms that can cause a whiplash injury including sports injuries, physical abuse, and other types of traumas including falls. What's concerning is that the symptoms of whiplash, which includes headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, dizziness, poor concentration, and fatigue, may not present for days, months, or even years after an accident. This is why it's important to have your spine evaluated following a Maple Grove chiropractor. Chiropractors are one of the providers that focus almost solely on the spine and the surrounding structures and have a unique approach to evaluation and treatment of spinal injuries.
How can we reduce the chance of whiplash from a car accident in Maple Grove MN?
Let's get into how whiplash can possibly be prevented or reduced, specifically during an auto accident.
To do this we need to focus on removing some of the risk factors:
- Use seat belts and shoulder harnesses appropriately. These are one of your car's most important features.
- Position your head restraint at the proper level. Make sure that the headrest is level with the back of your head. If the restraint is lower, it puts you at a greater risk for neck injury all together.
- Make sure the head restraint is locked in place.
- If you know you are about to be hit, try to look straight ahead.
- Place your hands flat against the steering wheel, but do not grip it.
- Press your head back against the head restraint, decreasing the distance between the back of your head and the restraint itself.
- Shrug your shoulders to reduce the mobility of your neck.
- Practice the above until it becomes an automatic response or a reflex.
Unfortunately, even with these precautionary steps, it still may not be possible to prevent a whiplash injury. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, please take the necessary steps to seek out the appropriate treatment.
Why is it important to get treatment following even a minor motor vehicle collision?
The delicate structures of the spine are very susceptible to injury during a whiplash mechanism. It's not necessarily the speed of the collision, but rather the change in velocity or the acceleration that occurs as a result. Studies have shown that collisions occurring at even 5 mph and less can damage both the soft and hard tissues of the spine and produce an injury. In fact, it's often these slower speed collisions that result in a greater likelihood for injury.
To break down the mechanism of whiplash injury, we're going to refer to it as a cervical acceleration/deceleration injury as this more accurately describes what is happening. During the initial phase, a vehicle is struck from behind, which moves the victim's body forward in relation to the head, thus producing extension in the cervical spine. In the second phase, the cervical spine and head are catapulted forward, ultimately producing flexion of the cervical spine. If during either of these phases, the soft tissues are stretched beyond their physiological limits, an injury may result.
What do I do next?
Call Total Spine Health and Injury Center or go to www.totalspinemn.com for more information about how our Maple Grove chiropractor can help you. Our licensed and certified staff is committed to the residents of Maple Grove, MN and Plymouth, MN, to help them live their lives free from pain.