What is Whiplash?
Whiplash- a sudden snap of the neck (backward and forwards, also known as hyperextension and hyperflexion), which results mostly from automobile accidents, involving a rapid series of movements which occurs faster than the bones, muscles, and ligaments can handle. When the head is thrown alternately back and forth in a shearing motion that can tear muscles and ligaments, it can cause misalignments in the spine (called subluxations), and injure discs and nerves. The end result is a vertebral subluxation.
A vertebral subluxation is a change in the position of two vertebral bones. When a change from or back to a normal position occurs, the body will react. A subluxation can interrupt function. This is sometimes called fixations and it contributes to many health problems. Sometimes an adjustment by a chiropractor can help restore bones to their proper positions and reduce nerve interference.
Even though violent motion in car accidents rarely causes a broken neck, it does give a victim a severe neck strain, sprain, and at the least a stiff and/or sore neck. Whiplash injuries cause damage to the cervical vertebrae (cervical neck discs) and the surrounding soft tissues. There is often chronic neck pain that can last from a few weeks to countless years.
The worse symptoms of a whiplash injury are rarely felt right away. It may take several hours to several days to feel and have the symptoms.
Not all neck injuries can be seen with x-rays. Joints may, in fact, seem normal, and yet they are the source of the tremendous pain. In order to relieve this, you require pain medication and anti-inflammatory treatment. Sometimes a cervical collar or neck brace is needed.
In serious auto accidents, there are instances that a cervical disc herniation or occult facet joint injury may occur. In a 10-year study, researchers found that facet joint pain was a major cause of chronic head and neck pain in 60% of studies. This could go undiagnosed until progressive severe neck and shoulder pain occurs, which happened to me. In the worst case scenario, a herniated cervical disc would require the victim to undergo neck surgery.
The bottom line is this… Inflammation may be long-lasting, but the pain from muscle stretching and tearing is not. The duration of these injuries is normally measured in days or weeks, rarely in months, and never in years. At this point after chronic pain for more than several months patients should ask for a referral to an anesthesiologist who is a pain specialist Anesthesiologists, especially those trained in pain management techniques, have an in-depth knowledge of the body and its nerve systems, and know how to treat the various pain syndromes.
Treating a chronic pain condition effectively usually requires a combination of techniques. In addition to behavioral changes and drug therapy, anesthesiologists use different types of nerve blocks to alleviate pain. Anesthesiologists also use nerve blocks as diagnostic tools to help determine the specific mechanics of the pain process. This allows them to differentiate various types of pain including psychogenic pain, central pain syndromes, complex regional pain syndrome and somatic pain, all crucial information for the anesthesiologist. Once the particular pain problem is confirmed, therapeutic nerve blocks can be used for pain relief.