Whiplash Injury and Post-Traumatic Neck Pain

In the past 32+ years of caring for patients...

I have taken care of thousands and thousands of patients who were injured in motor vehicle accidents. Many of these patients had been recently injured and I regard them as the lucky one. Not lucky to be in an accident but lucky to have enough persistent symptoms to be in my office right away. Waiting for months or years to properly treat a traumatic neck injury can allow the injury to become permanent. We can be successful in these cases but the sooner it is treated the better the chance of great outcomes. Unfortunately many people never realized until years later that the seemingly mild injuries they sustained would cause them trouble years later. In this day and time, thankfully we have the diagnostic tools (research grade infrared thermal imaging, electromyography, Thermo-electric differential analysis and digital x-ray) to literally map in full color the injuries sustained in these accidents and document them. Once documented, we can use the same instrumentation to verify the correction of the problem objectively. Though not well known this sort of documentation is backed up by over 3000 Indexed studies and 35 years of research. I always like hearing that patients feel better but when it comes to these types of neck and back injuries I want to “see” that it is better!

Questions I have answered in the past:

Everybody is not hurt in car accidents. You chiropractors are just making money on the insurance aren’t you? You guys just love car accidents!

Thanks for that comment. Your apparent “bad chiropractor” experience is regrettable. “They love car accidents” is a faulty generalization and is definitely a mischaracterization of the tools and information presented. I have had the opportunity to care for some of the unique injuries associated with Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s). Especially bad ones where the skull is struck a blow in the accident or the upper cervical joint complex becomes the focus of truly excessive torsional stress. This unique set of circumstances commonly leads to a very unique type of injury that reveals itself with definite signs and symptoms. The injury can be seen objectively on x-ray and para-spinal digital infrared imaging or with thermo-electric differential analysis. In evaluating for substantial injury the objectivity allows me to see whether or not there is an injury outside of the soreness and stiffness you would expect with any strain/sprain. In treatment the objectivity allows me to see if what I am doing is resolving the injury and when that resolution is complete. Again thank you for your comment and the opportunity to address this.

How do you know you may have been hurt?

Persistent Pain that Recurs. In my daily practice I tend to fall back on objective testing and explanations and comparison values that most people could understand. Threatening someone with so many visits over so much time or you will be in a wheel chair sounds a bit over the top to me. A reasonable approach? Treat and test, treat and test. Hope for a lasting resolution. Good to hear from you.

Can’t I just treat myself? Like this... “cra-a-a-a-a-ack” ?

Thanks for the comment. My thoughts are along this line: Persistent neurological symptoms (which numbness and tingling in the arms are), deserve at least an MRI to start. X-rays are a bone study that is a fair enough beginning and may be all that is necessary if the patient begins to clear up with treatment. If treatment is ineffective or improvement occurs but symptoms persist and are not clearing, you gotta find out why it is so. I have seen people over the years attempt to self-treat in various forms a common one being the cracking and popping of one’s own neck. If you want a good demo of that go to YouTube (pretty scary in some ways). When I run into these folks they proudly proclaim “I don’t need a chiropractor, watch this, CRAACCCKKK!!!” I always ask “how many times a day do you do that”? The answer is usually multiple times a day. They are self-treating multiple times a day for years! When asked what happens if you don’t do it, typically the report is it gets stiff, sore and hurts. So they self- treat and crack away on it, multiple daily treatments for years. I have never found it necessary to treat at that frequency or duration in the past 30 or so years. One of the problems in this self- treatment program is the very real possibility of inducing instability into the spine. Spines should be mobile but within certain limits. One of the most common reasons for spinal pain is a situation where one plane of movement in a given segment or two has been restricted. Under this influence nature will commonly recruit other segments to “compensate” for the loss of movement. The areas that are compensating typically are the most painful. They can be made to temporarily feel better by “popping” them. Once people discover they can temporarily get relief and loosen those tight spots up, it’s hard to say, “hey don’t do that, you are loosening up the wrong thing and destabilizing your spine”. One of the most difficult things is for patients to stop this activity and deal with it properly because it can become simply a nervous habit after a while. I would be interested to know if your x-rays are bio-mechanically normal or simply normal because you don’t show signs of a fracture or space occupying lesion. Years ago it was not the case but in this day and time, normal movements and responses to load bearing shifts are very well known and documented. Sometimes these factors need to be weighted more in the analysis than is commonly done. I’m not really clear about what you mean by your neck going out and needing to be put back in at night. That sounds terrible and you probably could benefit from some sleep. Well, that’s what comes to mind about your situation as you describe it. If I was having that kind of trouble for that long, I’d look a little further into it. Feel free to leave your comments and good luck with that situation, I wish you the best.

Waiting for months or years to properly treat a traumatic neck injury can allow the injury to become permanent. The sooner the whiplash treatment the better the chance of great outcomes.
Persistent neurological symptoms deserve at least an MRI to start. X-rays are a bone study that is a fair enough beginning and may be all that is necessary if the patient begins to clear up with whiplash treatment.

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