Auto Accident Whiplash Symptoms & Treatments in Austin
Auto accident occur frequently in Austin, Texas causing whiplash injuries. Whiplash car accident injuries can cause symptoms immediately or can be delayed for days, weeks,and months.
Here is just one example what happens during a auto accident whiplash injury. One 2000-3000 pound automobile crashes into another 2000-3000 pound vehicle at various speeds. The vehicle crash is enough to damage your vehicle with bent steel, broken glass, and splintered plastic. All of this occurred in a split second. Car crash impacts can be measured in milliseconds causing you and your vehicle to abruptly change directions whipping you around in your automobile. This quick movement can tear or stretch muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and intervertebral discs and compress (pinch)nerves and herniated discs. Severe impact can also cause bone fractures, brain damage, and spinal cord injuries.
Auto accidents happen so quick it is hard for your mind to see the total picture. Slow motion video of occupant movement in a car at the time of impact is amazing and helps us to understand how injuries can occur to various different body parts. Research has proven that the threshold for injury is 5 mph. Today, car manufacturers and insurance companies have demanded improved bumpers to protect damage to your vehicle. However, the improved bumpers has not totally prevented occupant motion or damage.
Here is a list of the most common whiplash car accident injury symptoms:
Pain in the cervical spine (neck) is the most frequent symptoms for people in a car accident. Neck pain is reported by injured drivers 90% of the time. Neck pain can range from neck stiffness, tightness, and decreased range of motion to excruciating neck pain. Severe whiplash injuries can cause fractures of the cervical vertebra. Fracture of the neck can cause spinal cord damage. Fractures and spinal cord damage are a medical emergency and need immediate emergency medical treatment.
Other tissues damaged by whiplash include:
Muscles - The cervical spine paraspinal muscles are often are strained, torn, or stretched. This can cause immediate neck pain. Failure to control swelling in the damaged muscles of the cervical spine improperly treated can lead to formation of adhesive scar tissue. Scar tissue causes adjacent tissues (other muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, etc.) to adhere to one another. Muscles are designed contract and move the head. When adhesions form between two different structures or tissue it restricts range of motion, increased irritation and inflammation, and increases more pain. Early detection and proper treatment of damaged muscles to control swelling will decrease neck pain, promote healing, diminish scar tissue formation, and restore function.
Most of the time is best to use ice packs to control swelling for 24 to 72 hours and maybe more if swelling is not controlled. Usually after 72 hours application of moist heat help increase circulation and begin the healing process follow a whiplash injury.
Ligaments - Ligaments are elastic tissue designed to hold the joint together within a set range motion. Auto accidents often damage and stretch ligaments as the head is whipped back and forth rapidly. When ligaments are stretched that condition is called a sprain.
Cervical spine flexion and extension stress x-rays, with the head tilted forward and backwards, are necessary to properly diagnose the severity of the sprained ligaments. When ligaments are stretched or lax, the ligaments no longer hold the neck vertebra in place allowing the vertebra to slid forward or backwards. The greater degree of ligament laxity the patient will experience: 1) longer recovery and treatment time, 2) prognosis may not be as good for a full recovery, 3)additional treatment cost is anticipated, and 4) and the damage may be permanent. Research has shown when the ligaments have stretched enough to allow the vertebra to move 5mm total anterior and posterior movement it causes tearing of the intervertebral disc of the neck.
If the vertebra moves around too much, the excessive movement of the vertebra causes excessive pressure on the posterior joint surface. When ligament laxity allows the vertebra to slid backwards it can cause direct nerve root pressure. Both situations previously mentioned are well known to cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, and upper mid back pain. Similar conditions can occur in the mid back (thoracic spine) or low back (lumbar spine). Ligament laxity responds well to chiropractic adjustments and to spinal decompression that gives passive range of motion stimulating the ligament to heal, regain proper length and tension, and to hold the cervical vertebra in place.
When people sustain a whiplash car accident injury 80% of the time they report headaches. Different types of headaches are associated with whiplash injuries. Post-Traumatic Headaches are due to damage or bruising of the brain. Cervicogenic headaches are generated from nerve irritation in the upper and mid cervical spine and muscular damage of the cervical paraspinal and suboccipital muscles. Occipital Neuralgia is irritation of the occipital nerve causing pain to radiate up the back of the skull. Chiropractic adjustments, electric muscle stimulation, ice packs, moist heat, ultrasound, class IV cold laser reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Shoulder pain can come from regional damage to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsule around the shoulder, and even fracture of the shoulder joint itself in severe impacts. Shoulder pain can also be caused from nerve irritation of the mid to lower cervical spine vertebra. Treatment varies due to the type tissue injured.
Direct trauma to the arms are often caused form air bag deployment resulting in burns, bruises, and even fractures of the arm. Car accident impact can cause direct injury to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is resultant of having your hands on the steering wheel and the impact causes a stretch or compression force spraining ligaments of the wrist and hand.
Upper Mid Back pain
Pain in the mid back can be generated from damaged muscles, sprained ligaments, misaligned vertebra, misaligned ribs most often. Thoracic discs, less common than the cervical and lumbar spine herniated disc, can also be damaged in a car crash. Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective to realign the vertebra and ribs, stimulate damaged ligaments to tighten and regain proper tension, and decrease muscle spasms. Electric muscle stimulation breaks up acute muscle spasms. Ice packs initially helps reduce acute swelling. After the acute swelling is under control, moist heat helps improve circulation in the area to flush out lactic acid and to allow and promote healing of the damaged tissues. Later, after the acute phase is over specific rehab exercises help rehabilitate the damaged thoracic spine muscles.
Lower Back Pain
Lumbar spine whiplash injuries include damage to the muscles, ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs. A through examination is necessary to determine which tissues are damaged.
Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective for reduction of misaligned vertebral due to ligament sprain and acute muscle spasms. Electric muscle stimulation breaks up acute muscle spasms. Ice packs initially helps reduce acute swelling. After the acute swelling is under control, moist heat helps improve circulation in the area to flush out lactic acid and to allow and promote healing of the damaged tissues. Later, after the acute phase is over specific rehab exercises help rehabilitate the damaged thoracic spine muscles. Herniated disc respond best to spinal decompression. Chiropractic adjustments can help a herniated disc. My personal clinical experience is that lumbar spine herniated disc are best treated with spinal decompression. Spinal decompression is a much longer conversation. Just click on the blue word and it will redirect you to a webpage to teach you about spinal decompression and herniated disc.
Sciatica (Leg Pain)
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve is often called the "6 foot neuron". Four nerve roots come from the lower back and sacrum to form one large bundle of nerves to make the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the pelvis and down the leg all the way to the foot and toes.
Sprains of the lumbar ligaments often allow the lumbar vertebra to apply pressure to the lumbar nerve roots and cause sciatic nerve pain. The farther the sciatic nerve pain travels down the leg the more severe the condition. Sciatica can also cause leg numbness if the nerve is fatigued. Muscle cramping and muscle weakness are also symptoms of sciatic nerve pain.
Lumbar herniated discs are often associated with a "True Sciatica" (meaning the leg pain extends below the knee). Low back herniated disc respond well to spinal decompression, class IV cold laser, chiropractic adjustments, specific and carefully chosen rehab exercises. Herniated discs and spinal decompression is a much longer conversation. Just click of the blue word links to take you to an associated web page for spinal decompression and herniated discs.
If you have been in whiplash injuries and symptoms following a car accident call for an examination to find out how chiropractic can can get you back on track, free of pain, and resume all previous work, play, and home daily duties. Call 512-447-9093.