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What is whiplash? Well aside from being, in my opinion, a pretty good movie about music, control and over achievement; whiplash is also the name of an important neck injury. In this article, we will demystify this whiplash and its repercussion WAD (whiplash associated disorder).  

The Injury

Car accidents cause whiplash in most cases. However, what exactly is it? In a car accident, the speed of the vehicle can change drastically. If you get hit from the behind it accelerates or if you hit something in front of you it decelerates. Of course, lateral and other vectors of collision are possible but they make the injury more complex.

Good news for all driver, car safety and technology can now save a lot of lives during impact. The seat belt and your headrest sante-whiplash-neck-soreare definitely two of the most important, but the design of cars today is to absorb most of the impact, which is an important factor. Some newer device in some car are even better at preventing you from having an accident.

Even with all these different technologies your car might have for your security, your body will also feel it. Your head will go forward, in hyperflexion, during an impact. This will then results in a complete motion backward, in hyperextension. And because the movement recalls the motion of a whip we call it a whiplash.

Car accidents are a common cause of this injury, but they are not the only one. Indeed, whiplash can occur because of a bad fall or during an important impact in contact sports. Brief, not all car accident cause whiplash and not all whiplash are cause by car accident.   

Whiplash = injury                             WAD = Post injury/ repercussion

Categories of WAD

Whiplash associated disorder repercussion can come with a wide variety of symptoms and depending their gravity, we categories the level of injuries.

Simplistic version of the categories:

  • WAD-0:  No Pain, no stiffness or any symptoms
  • WAD-I:  Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness no Physical signs
  • WAD-II: Neck pain with musculoskeletal signs (abnormal range of motion and trigger points)
  • WAD-III:  Neck pain with neurological signs (abnormal reflexes, weakness or sensory deficits)
  • WAD-IV: Neck pain with fracture and dislocation or spinal cord injury

Expecting the Impact vs. a Complete Surprise

This is a very important question for your health care provider. If you had time to see the impact coming, your body will react differently than if you did not. In consequence the injured structures will be different. If you were aware, your muscle will contract in order to protect your neck. Your muscles are your first line of defence and as such, will be the first thing injured.  If you do not expect anything your ligaments and joints will directly be affected. More often, the first case will be more painful on the few days following the trauma, but the second option is more likely to cause long term consequences.

What to do?

After a major accident or any impact affecting your neck, you should get assessed as soon as possible. Even if you don’t feel any pain. Pain isn’t a problem it is only a symptom amongst others. A quick diagnosis is the key behind a good healing of such an injury. Chiropractors can evaluate, diagnose and provide appropriate care for such conditions.

An early diagnostic can also prevent further symptoms. An asymptomatic whiplash not well taking care of, can transform in a reverse cervical curvature, accelerated decay of the spine, nerve entrapment and finally pain or stiffness many years later. These can have drastic impact on your day to day life if you did not get everything check at the beginning.

Don’t take that chance. Book an appointment by clicking here  in order to get checked now.