Whiplash Pain Relief – Why Is It Taking So Long? | Chiropractor R-VA

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Whiplash Pain Relief –
Why Is It Taking So Long?

This is a partial list of the symptoms that can occur as the result of a motor vehicle collision:  1) neck pain; 2) headache; 3) radiating pain (from neck to head, to the shoulder blade, arm, hand); 4) generalized hypersensitivity; 5) numbness or tingling; 6) muscle weakness; 7) jaw pain and dysfunction; 8) visual disturbances; 9) loss of position control of the head and neck; 10) dizziness (vertigo); 11) post-concussive symptoms–loss of memory, difficulty concentrating and staying on task, depression and/or anxiety; 12) middle and/or low back pain; 13) carpal tunnel syndrome and/or double crush syndrome, and more!  To make matters even more complicated, the onset of symptoms can range between immediately following the collision to days, weeks, or even longer!

Back in 1983, researchers attempted to determine the length of time it would take for recovery or to determine the extent an injured person might improve based on certain findings gathered at the time of the motor vehicle collision (MVC).  This original work was then taken one step further and a “point value” was assigned to each symptom and/or exam finding, thus allowing us to place the injured person into a “prognostic group” based on the number of points (the greater the points, the more severe and longer the recovery).  About a decade later (1995), the next “classification” of whiplash injury simplifying the process was published by the Quebec Task Force placing the patient into one of four Whiplash Associated Disorder “grades.”  this included:

Grade 0: no injury;

Grade 1: neck pain, stiffness/tenderness but no exam findings;

Grade 2 (most common): same as Grade 1 but WITH exam findings (motion loss, muscle spasm) but NO neurological findings (numbness, weakness);

Grade 3: same as Grade 2 but WITH neurological findings (numbness, weakness);

Grade 4: neck complaints WITH fracture or dislocation or spinal cord injury.

The first three grades were later found to be reliable in terms of determining who were more likely to suffer long-term problems (WAD grade 3 being the most likely).  However, based on inconsistencies with the WAD classification system, it is now reported that recovery from whiplash is determined not only by the degree of physical symptoms and signs, but also the psychological trauma that occurs as a result of a MVC.

It is reported that motor dysfunction (movement loss), cervical spine mechanical problems, and psychological distress are ALL present soon after injury in many whiplash injured people, irrespective of recovery.  But those who do not get better present a more complex picture that includes a more widespread sensory hypersensitivity (like that seen with fibromyalgia), which indicates “central” (brain) pain processing problems and acute post-traumatic stress reaction (these may also be present soon after injury).  Hence, the discussion of mild-traumatic brain injury, post-concussive syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder ALL may be involved and, it is these that make “…getting over a whiplash injury” so challenging for some.

Doctors of chiropractic provide a comprehensive approach in the assessment and management of patients who have suffered a whiplash injury.

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Related Articles:

Whiplash – 6 Tips For Faster Recovery:  There are many things that can be done by the patient to assist in the healing process for WAD. The first well-studied recommendation is. . .

Best Whiplash ExercisesThere are certain muscles that can “hide” behind larger, stronger muscles and are more difficult to isolate, and therefore, very often remain weak . . .

Got Whiplash? 10 Facts You Need To Know!:  The term “whiplash” encompasses the damage that occurs to the bony spine, and in particular, the soft tissues, while the term “WAD” encompasses ALL the associated injuries and symptoms including the psychosocial problems that can arise due to injured tissues and associated loss of activity tolerance.  The good news is. . .


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Dr. Dana Williamson is a chiropractor who has been helping relieve back pain and neck pain of the residents of Mechanicsville, Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, and Glen Allen since 2001.

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  1. Pingback: Best Whiplash Exercises - Bell Creek Chiropractic & Pain Specialists

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This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a health care professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.
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