As we enter a new era, one more dependent on technology than ever, injuries we sustain can take on a new level of disability. Take for instance, acceleration-deceleration whiplash injuries – these are some of the most common we chiropractors see in auto accident pain cases. As more people spend a large portion of their waking time on computer devices, whiplash injuries can and do cause worse pain, numbness and tingling than in the past simply because of how much we are in front of the screens. Chronic loading of the spinal segments of the neck, along with the typical physiological changes that come from whiplash injury, create an environment which can make recovery from neck pain extremely difficult.
There is a solution, however; a comprehensive rehabilitation protocol which can ensure that the neck and upper back are moving properly, have strength and support, and are flexible. This environment allows the inevitable changes which come along with the use of the newest work, communication, and information-gathering tools we use today. These new tools lead to new stresses, which require new approaches for old injuries. Chiropractic care for neck pain has never been more necessary than it is with using today’s modern technology.
Cervical And Thoracic Spines Can Be Damaged From Whiplash Injuries
During an acceleration-deceleration type of auto accident, the head is flung backward from the sudden stop of the vehicle coming into full speed contact with another object (usually a car, but could also be a motorcycle, wall, railing, animal, or human). Believe it or not, these types of impacts also occur from simply slamming on the brakes, although it is passengers, who are not ready for the sudden stop, that are most susceptible. When traveling in a moving object like a car, the person is being carried at the same exact speed as the vehicle. As the car suddenly stops, the passenger continues to move forward until the trajectory is countered either by restraint or the unmoving vehicle (wall, tree, etc.). This means that without a seat belt restraint, a fast moving object, like a human body, could and often does continue to travel through the windshield (or if luck into a dashboard, side panel, or quickly deployed airbag). Every one of these restraints leads to a different type of injury, with varying degrees of severity, however the most common — the seatbelt — leads to the typical whiplash neck pain injury.
As the passenger’s body travels rapidly forward, the seatbelt locks into place, creating an instant stop. The unrestrained head, however, continues its forward trajectory until the lock occurs, at which point it snaps backward. That instant snapping of the neck can damage spinal tissue, like the discs and ligaments, but most ominously it tears the muscle tissue of the surrounding spinal segments. Inflammation and scar tissue can then set in, leading to an environment of chronic cyclical micro tearing of the same muscle tissue. This, in turn, leads to chronic neck pain. The typical presentation of people suffering from whiplash is neck pain on turning the head, and sharp, shocking neck pain while flexing the head toward the side of injury (like bringing one’s ear to one’s shoulder).
It is not uncommon for the pain to emanate from the bones of the lower neck, as well as those in the upper back (between the shoulder blades). This type of injury can not only cause pain primarily felt in the neck but also around the shoulders and shoulder blades. This could lead to an inability to find a comfortable position while lying down or a persistent dull, achy soreness while looking at a computer screen.
Whiplash Injuries Can Cause Numbness and Tingling
Along with the aforementioned spinal damage that can result from acceleration-deceleration car crash injuries, the neurological tissue responsible for sensations to the neck, shoulders, arms, chest, and upper back can also be damaged. It is not uncommon for one experience a tingling sensation after an auto accident. Unfortunately, these symptoms tend to arise much later in sequelae – that is, they are late to arrive and rather stubborn to leave. These are the worst of the chronic symptoms which can happen from auto accident whiplash injuries. Tingling in the fingers is usually due to a nerve root; that is, from neurological tissue at the level of the spine. When tingling is at the front of the neck, back of the neck, shoulder, upper arm and/or chest, then scar tissue in the surrounding injured muscle is often the cause. If left untreated, this type of neck pain, numbness, and tingling can plague the sufferer for many years, and ultimately lead to muscle atrophy (degeneration) and weakness (loss of function). Do not take degeneration and loss of function lightly. These are the signs and symptoms of most concern to chiropractors and neurologists alike. Nerve tissue is notoriously slow to heal and regenerate. Best to not let degeneration set in at all. Best to get immediate treatment if you are suffering from neck pain, numbness and tingling.
Chiropractic is the Ultimate Healing Modality for Whiplash Neck Pain Injuries
Because of chiropractic’s comprehensive treating nature, and the holistic healing results which come from this level of treatment, chiropractic is the ultimate form of treatment for whiplash neck pain injuries resulting from car crashes. Chiropractic primarily addresses the spinal joints and elements, like the nerve roots, ligaments, and surrounding musculature. By bringing motion back to the injured joints of the neck (including the intervertebral discs), it allows an environment of free movement of your neck, which is necessary to reestablish proper function (essentially how you turn, flex or extend your neck). This is of utmost importance for any person, but especially for those spending long hours in front of computer screens and cell phones. Think about it: Holding your head in place for extended times is already diminishing movement. The natural inclination is to then move the head and neck, to somewhat “get the cobwebs out”. The more the neck hurts, the harder it is to perform movements which are so instinctual to us. People with neck pain will avoid doing these necessary movements, thus further exacerbating the dysfunction. Restoring proper motion with chiropractic not only removes immediate pain but also creates a properly functioning neck system. This allows natural movements to relieve the stagnancy which comes along with extended computer screen time.
In my West Hollywood auto accident pain relief chiropractic practice, I also address muscular issues which can cause neck numbness and tingling. I do this directly by working on the tissue involved. I guide my clients to strength and flexibility to support these once injured neck elements so that they do not simply enter a vicious cycle of neck pain, disability, momentary relief, and then pain, numbness, and tingling again. I must emphasize this extremely important distinction: under my care clients can expect pain relief as well as tools to help prevent the neck pain, numbness and tingling from becoming chronic. And most importantly, my client’s learn tools to heal themselves. I believe it is important to teach my client’s how to care for themselves so they do not have to become reliant on pain relief care.
Pain relief is important. How you address your neck and upper back pain, numbness and tingling following a car or motorcycle crash can make the difference between short-lived pain and disability and long-term, chronic injury. How you are treated also makes the difference. If you are like many people today, your work and life require you to be in front of screens more. If you work from home, it is close to a third of your waking time. Sitting in front of screens requires strong, healthy, mobile, and functional necks. Chiropractic is the ultimate treatment, healing, and preventative modality to achieve just that. By addressing the joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles, chiropractic can and often does help a person who has had a personal injury in an auto accident recover quickly and fully. Don’t leave your neck pain to chance and hope it will go away on its own. Choose chiropractic for your healing modality. You will not regret your decision.
If you are in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, or West Hollywood, please do not hesitate to contact my office.