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Whiplash – A Serious Injury

Published on 16th November 2016

Why whiplash is more complicated than you may think

Find out how Advanced Biostructural Correction™ can reverse the damage

In the past few months we had several patients come to our Pain & Posture Wellness Centre office in Perth with acute whiplash injuries. Most of these patients had been involved in car accidents – some just days before they found their way into our office; others had been suffering from pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility for weeks or months. So we thought it might be a good time to explain more about whiplash injuries: what they are, what causes them, and how the traditional approach differs from what we can offer with Advanced Biostructural Correction™.

Whiplash – what is it?

Whiplash injuries are caused by a sudden impact that causes your neck or back to move forward, backward, or sideways. The most common cause is car accidents but whiplash can also be caused by falls, contact sports, or other forms of head trauma (blows to the head during boxing or rugby, or vehemently striking the head against a solid object). The sudden impact causes the head or back to move forward and backward in rapid succession. The traditional medical and chiropractic view focuses only on the neck. The assumption is that the impact and sudden movement causes damage to muscles and ligaments in the spine by over-stretching them. The result is pain, muscle spasms, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and headaches. Symptoms can take several hours to develop after an accident and can have a severe impact on quality of life and ability to work.

Traditional medicine and chiropractic determines whiplash injuries mostly from the description of symptoms by the patient – tests or scans are rarely performed. X-rays may be taken to rule out fractures. Treatment mostly consists of prescribing anti-inflammatories or other painkillers, as well as giving referrals for physiotherapy. Gentle stretches or gentle movement of the head/neck are also often recommended (the past approach of using neck braces to restrict movement has mostly been abandoned). The general idea suggested by the traditional medical approach is that whiplash will get better on its own, even if it may take several months…

Whiplash – what really goes on inside your body

Every part of your body is connected to everything else. An impact in one place rarely ever affects only one part. The impact of e.g. a car accident or fall disperses throughout your entire skeletal frame, causing misalignments and distortions. Your body can fix some of these on its own but not all of them. If the impact causes bones to move out in a “forward” direction, there are no muscles in your spine that can pull one bone straight back over the one below it. In order to stabilise itself, the body has to twist up and compensate for the injuries it can’t fix by itself. This is why pain seemingly “goes away by itself” – in reality, the problem simply shifts to elsewhere in the body and then, after a while, a new pain shows up in a new location.

Whiplash is not only created by your head violently jerking forward during the impact of e.g. a car accident. The sudden stop of a head-on collision causes your entire back and neck to jerk forward – and then your entire back and head/neck slam back into the backrest/headrest of your car seat. If your car gets rear-ended, the backrest slams into your back from behind, causing your body to jerk forward and then slam back into the seat.

In either of these scenarios, a force acts on your spine from behind (i.e. the car seat slams your spine forward on impact). If a force acts on a curve – in this case the natural curve in your spine –, the curve flattens. Bones in your spine get moved into a “forward” direction, and your body has to compensate for these changes by purposely pulling other bones out of alignment. Your spinal curves change and become too flat overall. Doctors speak of a “straight” or “flat” spine or of “loss of cervical lordosis” or “loss of thoracic kyphosis”. To understand what lordosis and kyphosis mean, check out our previous post on spinal curves here.

whiplash whiplash

On the left: neck x-ray of a patient with whiplash. Note how straight the spine is.

On the right: neck x-ray of a patient with a relatively normal spinal curve. (images: Wikimedia).

The joints in your spine get stuck, leading to stiffness and reduced range of motion. Check out our other post on how these spinal distortions affect your nervous system overall here. In a nutshell, these changes in shape cause your spinal cord to get stretched from end to end, creating tension and pulling of the nerves. Stretched nerves don’t function well, and this – alongside the tight muscles – creates pain. The tension and distortion also causes the meninges (protective coverings around the brain and spinal cord) to get stuck, and they can then hold the bones in the wrong position.

Now you can understand that whiplash is a severe injury. Because of the structural and mechanical changes involved in it, it can’t simply “go away” by itself. Your body can compensate for it over time, as the pain patterns get shifted to elsewhere in your body, but it cannot fix it or reverse it on its own.

The whiplash patients, whom we have seen at the office recently, basically had a posture that looked like they had swallowed a broomstick: their spines were way too straight, with no curves at all in their neck, mid- or low back. They were in severe pain, found it hard to get on/off the treatment table, couldn’t put their shoes or socks on, couldn’t turn their head, had trouble sleeping, and of course were off sick from work.

Advanced Biostructural Correction™ has found a way to correct the spinal bones that have gone out in a “forward” direction. The body cannot self-correct these bones, as there are no muscles pulling in the exact direction needed. ABC™ has also found a way to stretch out the stuck points in the meninges which are holding these bones out of place. These two approaches reduce tension and stretching of the spinal cord and nerves. Pain gets reduced, movement returns to the stuck joints, and the spinal curves become normal again over time. We document these changes by taking pictures before/after treatment. Our patients can thus see how the shape of their spine changes. Our most recent whiplash patient can already put his socks back on after only a week of treatment. Another patient is even back on the ski slopes already, just a couple months after first coming to see us.

If you have been involved in a car accident and suffer from whiplash symptoms, schedule a free consultation with one of our practitioners at the Perth or Falkirk offices to see how we can help.

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