The effects of a whiplash injury, like any other traumatic injury, can range from mild to severe. Four people can be in the same car accident and one can walk away unharmed, one can have mild symptoms, one moderate symptoms and the other can be paralyzed. How is this possible if all of them were subjected to the same forces?
It always amuses me when an insurance company claims examiner will be quite certain that a person could not have gotten injured in a so called minor impact collision. By looking at photos of the damage to the cars involved along with their crystal balls they are able to accurately tell who is legitimately injured and who is not.
For the record, science has proven that the only way to determine if someone has in fact gotten injured in an auto accident is for a qualified doctor to examine the patient after the accident and then issue a diagnosis as to injuries sustained or not. There is no science to support the insurance company position that you can tell if someone got injured in an accident by looking at photos of the cars involved. People have gotten severe injuries from participating in amusement park bumper cars.
So why would one person get severely injured and another walk away from the same accident? There are many reasons, including the prior state of health of the various occupants, whether or not they were aware the accident was about to occur, what position they were in when the trauma occurred, did they strike anything in the car, have they had prior injuries to the spine that were reasonably recovered only to be lit up by the current trauma, is one a strong high school football player and the other has advanced arthritis that has been quite until now but suddenly has been lit up by this trauma, or perhaps one has a spinal disc that is degenerating and bulging but otherwise not symptomatic until it is injured by the spinal trauma sustained? All of these are possible answers that can be properly ascertained by a good case history, examination and x-rays if indicated.
If you have been involved in an auto accident, it would serve you well to have your spine evaluated by someone whose professional training and career focus is determining spinal function and alignment i.e. a chiropractor. No other profession can make this claim. Most medical doctors will recommend pain medication and time. If pressed because the symptoms are persisting, they will recommend physical therapy. PT is a good start on hands on care, but the medical studies show that for most people, the better approach – both for an acute whiplash injury or for treatment of a chronic whiplash injury – manipulation is the better way to go.
The reason for this is because after a joint has been traumatized it will undergo different stages of healing that can take months to conclude. The end result is a kind of scar tissue that replaces the once healthy tissue around the joint. This tissue is less elastic and more sensitive to pain.
By carefully introducing joint mobilization and manipulation after an injury, you are allowing the injured tissue to undergo a more functional type of repair process. The tissue becomes more acclimated to the types of demands expected from the region involved, and will heal with a more functional type of fibrotic tissue.
In my office, we are well equipped to handle traumatic neck and back injuries. Treating whiplash patients has been a specialty of my practice since 1980. I have taken extensive postgraduate training in examining and documenting the injuries sustained. Because of my advanced training as a chiropractic neurologist, I will potentially find injuries that other doctors may miss such as a concussion (no you do not have to have a loss of consciousness to have sustained a concussion) or an injured disc. I am certified by the state of California for work injuries as a Qualified Medical Evaluator which means I can examine and determine permanent injuries sustained. I have passed certification from Texas A&M University as a minor impact accident reconstructionist. If a case is involved or failing to respond properly, I do not hesitate to refer to another specialist like an orthopedic surgeon for their assistance or opinion on getting advanced imaging studies such as a MRI.
Besides good hands on skills in treating the injured areas, we also have cutting edge tools to assist with healing and pain reduction such as Class III and IV lasers, hydrotherapy, traction, Graston and Rapid Relief Therapy modalities. Once recovery is on its way we then will utilize various rehabilitation equipment to facilitate strengthening and flexibility of the injured areas. Specific home exercises are always prescribed to facilitate recovery of the injured areas. Lastly, because I do a lot of work involving nutritional medicine, I will often give advice on improving one’s diet if applicable and encourage people to get off of inflammatory foods that may be hindering a patient’s more rapid recovery.