Dr. Patrick Lowe has a busy chiropractic practice in Louisville, KY. As a graduate of the Spine Research Institute of San Diego program in Whiplash and Brain Injury Traumatology, he has completed and reviewed extensive research on the cause and treatment of whiplash injuries.
I had a patient say, “I was in a collision and have whiplash, should I be concerned?”
The answer is a definite “YES!”
“What do I need to know?”
I wondered how many people would have the same question. In my 11 years of practice, I have seen my share of patients who weren’t concerned at the time and are still suffering years later. This is one of my favorite subjects, I have spent years studying whiplash research and treatments. The information in this article is specific and will answer a lot of your questions.
What is whiplash?
What causes it and how do I know if I have it?
Whiplash can occur from falls or sports injuries. The most common cause of whiplash is a rear end collision in an automobile.
Anytime you have been involved in a car crash you should be checked by a chiropractor. X-ray studies showing loss of the normal curve, muscle tenderness or spasm should not be ignored.
What are some of the symptoms of a (CAD) whiplash injury?
- Neck Pain
- Head Aches
- Arm pain
- Tingling or numbness in the head, arms or hands
Other concerns from car crashes:
Sudden loss of memory
Difficulty completing routine tasks
Jaw Pain or clicking
When do symptoms occur?
Pain or numbness can be noticed immediately. It is not uncommon for symptoms to show up much later, days, weeks or even months later. The reasons for this possible delay are numerous, but the problems should not be ignored just because they did not show up right away.
Is whiplash permanent?
In many cases the damage is reversible if the patient receives proper treatment in time. Care must address the joint alignment, muscle damage and even ligament damage.
Unfortunately, some cases have permanent damage from bulging discs, torn ligaments or muscle damage. These cases require more regular care and may eventually end in surgery.
-30-50% of whiplash victim’s pain had not resolved completely on follow up
– 9.6 percent of the population has chronic neck pain caused by an old whiplash injury
-45% of Americans with chronic neck pain attribute it to a car crash.
That’s a lot of people! Early detection and treatment are the key to lowering your risk of chronic neck pain.
There was little or no damage to the car, could I still have whiplash?
Yes. Bumpers in cars are made to rebound at low speeds. This protects the car but can cause more damage to the people inside the vehicle, especially when struck from the rear.
I love the slow motion videos that are available today. They show how a golf ball compresses when hit before it accelerates across the course. The springiness of the ball makes it go a lot farther and faster than if you were hitting a hollow soda can that collapses under impact. The same is true for your car. Collisions at low speeds, with little bumper damage, can cause more injury than ones at higher speeds. Why? The car absorbs some of the shock.
Cookie makers understand this principal too. That’s why they package cookies in plastic trays that crumple and spring back instead of hard plastic containers. They know that hard plastic containers cause more damage to the cookies inside.
The research: Analysis of over 8,000 crashes and 15,000 people showed that 36% of occupants sustained injuries in collisions under 9.3 mph. Only 20% sustained injuries over 9.3 mph (change in velocity). Foret-Bruno et al
One of the worlds leading researchers and experts on whiplash, Arthur Croft states “I estimate that between 30% and 60% of real world car occupants exposed to (rear impact collisions) less than or equal to 2.5 miles per hour sustain some degree of injury ranging from very short lived to disabling”
What if I need X-rays, MRI, or a referral to a specialist?
X-rays are available in our office and will be sent to a radiologist if indicated. We will send you for MRIs, CT scans or other special test when necessary in your case. We maintain good relationships with medical doctors and specialists in our area and will gladly refer you to the proper specialist.
What about an Attorney?
Not everyone needs an attorney. In Kentucky, your auto insurance will cover 100% of your care up to $10,000 minus any deductibles you may have. Many people just want to get fixed and for their insurance to pay for it. If you have more extensive injuries or injuries that may require long term treatment, you may need an attorney. We will gladly refer you to one of the best to protect your rights.
Having a doctor who understands and treats whiplash and the attorney who understands your injury will make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
Patrick R. Lowe, D.C. Graduate, Spine Research Institute of San Diego