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Whiplash and Car Accident Injuries



Whiplash injuries are complex and serious health concerns for anyone involved in an automobile accident. They occur because the powerful forces generated by one vehicle colliding with another are also exerted on the vehicles occupants. In the same way that your car’s metal frame is damaged and bent, your muscles are damaged and stretched. After all, it only makes sense that if steel and metal can be damaged from these forces, the human body can be similarly damaged.

The truth is many people will ignore their whiplash injuries. Many people involved in an accident will take better care of their car than themselves or their passengers.

Whiplash is one of the most common conditions treated in this country. It is also one of the most neglected, misunderstood and mistreated conditions you can have. As anyone who has had the misfortune of being taken to a local emergency room following a car accident knows, unless you have a broken bone or are bleeding, you were likely told that you would be fine in a few weeks. “If your pain persists, apply heat”. Drugs for pain to relax damage muscles are commonly prescribed.

This advice is extremely poor based on research comparing chiropractic treatment with medical treatment. If you have suffered a whiplash type injury, you should know that without proper treatment, your injury may be with you the rest of your life.

Dr. Johnson states “One of my preferred patients is a young and otherwise healthy person who was recently involved in an auto accident. They have had their spine re-arranged and are usually in significant pain. After a thorough diagnostic work up including an orthopedic/neurologic exam, x-rays and perhaps an MRI, I can put the vertebra back where they belong and remove all symptoms, usually in a short period of time. This makes me look good (therefore preferred patient status).”

“One of my not-so-favorite patients is the same person who takes pills to mask the pain. They show up in my office 9-10 years later, and by now their area of injury is wrought with degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. At this point we can manage the pain, but I can no longer correct the problem.”

Services and Procedures

What is whiplash?

There are many causes of whiplash type injuries but most of the common by far are from motor vehicle accidents. In a collision between two vehicles or with a fixed object, your head can be violently thrown backwards (hyperextension) and forward (hyper-flexion). This is comparable to the effect you see when a whip is suddenly snapped.

If your head was turned, watching for oncoming traffic or talking to a passenger when you were hit, the resulting rotational or twisting force complicates the injury even more. The effects of whiplash are first suffered by the “soft tissues”. Soft tissues are the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves that are responsible for the stability and movement of the neck and back. Due to the involvement of the nerves in a whiplash type injury, the symptoms can vary greatly, but the most common symptoms are neck, shoulder and arm pain, headaches, neck stiffness, dizziness, and lower back pain. If left untreated, more serious problems such as permanent disc and joint damage may occur resulting in painful lifelong arthritis.

Please understand that, in the case of whiplash or soft tissue injuries, drugs merely cover or mask symptoms. This can delay you from seeking proper treatment with a doctor who understands how to correct the damage done by a whiplash type injury. Your condition will be much harder to correct once scar tissue has formed and degeneration starts to occur.

Chiropractic treatment achieves better results than medical treatment because of its philosophy of not masking symptoms with drugs, but rather, correcting damage caused by the accident. Instead of using drugs, chiropractors use adjustments (manipulation) to restore proper joint function, and physical therapy to help speed healing of the injured soft tissues. Physical therapy without chiropractic adjustments will not lead to satisfactory results because, without restoring proper joint movement, injured tissues will not heal as well.

What should I do?

It is very important that everyone involved in a motor vehicle accident, especially children, have a thorough examination by a doctor that understands soft tissue injuries. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it would be wise for you to contact a Doctor of Chiropractic and find out if you need treatment. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are the best hedges against future problems. Remember, an accident takes only a moment but the suffering could last a lifetime.

We recommend that anyone injured in a car accident receive an exam by a chiropractor as soon as they can.  An auto accident is a mechanical injury. If you damage your basic body structure, such as in a whiplash type of injury, then you need mechanical therapy. When suffering from a mechanical injury, patients should see a doctor specializing in mechanical structure. This would be a chiropractor.

For example, when a car is wrecked, there is usually significant structural damage requiring repair. New bumpers, side panels, body work and paint are frequently needed. The cars frame itself can be bent. Without these needed repairs, it may be structurally unsound and unsafe. The human body reacts in a similar fashion when injured in an auto accident. The spine can be rearranged, causing pain and organ dysfunction. And the results can be devastating when left untreated.

It is necessary to treat the cause of the problem rather than the pain symptoms. Physical therapy and medications provide temporary relief, but they cannot put the spine back where it belongs.  The spine is like a machine with moving parts. If the parts don’t fit together right, they will wear out very quickly. Spinal degeneration, osteoarthritis and other problems can then develop over time.  If we can get to the spine right after the injury, then there will not be long term degeneration and other lingering effects.

Proficient in several sophisticated chiropractic techniques, Dr. Johnson and his staff work with each client individually, providing the highest quality of care.