Whiplash & Long Term Pain

Auto accidents are a major cause of injury in the United States. Of those injured in an accident, it is found that more than 1.8 million people per year will suffer with long-term, chronic pain and disability.  Typically, the initial neck injury is felt to be of a minor nature. Unfortunately, in many cases this rapidly changes!

Neck injuries from auto accidents have been classified as Whiplash Associated Disorders or WAD’s. Typical symptoms include pain in the neck that can radiate into the shoulder and sometimes the arm, headache, dizziness, jaw pain and even low back pain. In many instances the symptoms can be delayed for 24 hours or if present immediately, they progressively worsen during the following 24-48 hours. Neck pain is the most common reported symptom and has been noted to develop into a chronic, long-term pain up to 42% of the time.

Many factors can influence the severity of the neck pain associated with a WAD. Things like age, previous degeneration, overall body condition and specific mechanical factors of the accident. One factor noted to affect the long-term pain situation is the emotional reaction to the neck pain following the injury. Due to the pain, the injured person avoids moving the neck for fear of worsening the pain and/or possibly re-injuring the area. Research has suggested that this avoidance of pain and fear of re-injury is a major contributor to the development of chronic long-term pain and disability.

Further, research has demonstrated that early pain-relief followed by the restoration of normal motion of the neck and injured joints is one of the best preventatives of long-term pain. Chiropractic care is one of the best forms of treatment to aid in preventing the long-term pain from WAD’s. After pain relief, the focus of chiropractic care is the restoration of normal motion and alignment of injured joints.

The uniqueness of chiropractic care regarding the WAD is looking beyond the strained muscle and focusing on the individual spinal bones, called vertebra, and their injured joints. In a typical WAD the force of the collision causes a microscopic stretching of ligaments that hold the vertebral joints together. This allows for subtle misalignments of the vertebra along with limited motion of the injured joints. It is this damaged joint and the loss of motion that results in pain as the injured person tries to move their neck. Chiropractic care works to restore this normal motion.

The main form of treatment a Doctor of Chiropractic uses is an adjustment, also called a spinal manipulation. The purpose of the adjustment is to restore the normal alignment and mobility, thus reducing the irritation to the injured joints and subsequently relieving the pain.

Dr. Adam Elsey has years of experience helping injured patients prevent long-term pain. His thorough diagnosis and treatment plan focuses on not only pain relief, but also the restoration of the normal joint motion.

If you have been involved in an auto accident, you owe it to yourself to get an examination by Dr. Elsey: it is one of the best ways to prevent hurting for a long time!