Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are an unfortunately common occurrence on our roadways. Many MVAs result in neuromusculoskeletal symptoms, including whiplash, headache, neurological symptoms (radiculopathy, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness), and low back pain. Of these, whiplash is by and far the most common - and often under treated - condition occurring after a car accident. Here are 7 quick facts on whiplash from a North Vancouver Chiropractor’s perspective.
1) 45% of people with chronic neck pain attribute it to a previous motor vehicle accident.
Prolonging examination, treatment, activity modification, and rehabilitation exercises can factor into chronic, ongoing whiplash symptoms. Early evaluation by and treatment from a medical professional with in-depth knowledge of spinal conditions is key to recovery. The sooner a diagnosis is reached and a treatment plan is initiated, the better the long term outcome.
2) 93% of car accidents are caused by human error.
Defensive driving is important, especially during heavy rain, snow, and darkness. Do not assume that other drivers can see you! Interestingly, Google is attempting a solution for human error Google Self-Driving Car (although the current model still has a few kinks to work out).
3) There are activities that you can do on your own to aid recovery from whiplash
Cervical traction at home is an option, although not usually convenient or as effective as professional manual therapy. While preassembled traction kits can be ordered from online therapy websites, DIY devices can be made using towels or traction belts. However, one should always consult with a medical professional before trying traction at home.
Retraction and protraction cervical (neck) mobilization exercises are an easy, beneficial routine addition that can be utilized by anyone, regardless of MVA history. Retraction, a movement that can be described as bringing the chin back towards your neck (versus tucking the chin downward) and creating the effect of a double chin, is a motion often lost or reduced by chronic, sedentary posture and/or working a desk job. After an MVA, retraction can diminish further due to strained, stretched, and weak neck muscles. Protraction is a jutting forward of the chin. In today's society, overly protracted neck posture, or anterior head carriage, is - unfortunately - commonplace. This
posture has been shown to reduce natural spinal curvature, place increased stress on posterior cervical muscles (the muscles of the back of the neck), and increase upper back and shoulder tension. After an MVA, it is important that deep, stabilizing spinal muscles as well as superficial back muscles stay active to reduce chronic pain and tightness.
4) Spinal manipulation is among treatment methods acknowledged as effective for neck, upper back, and lower back pain.
Regardless of a sometimes negative attitude toward chiropractic care, numerous reputable sources have shown, through evidence based trials and research, that spinal manipulation is an effective intervention for motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, and spinal and nervous system conditions.
5) Early activity and mobilization, as opposed to rest and immobilization, is the recommendation of current evidence based medical research.
In the most recent guidelines for whiplash management from the Motor Accident Authority, cervical collars were given an A grade for NOT recommended forms of treatment. Early activity was given a recommendation grade of B, the highest grade given to any treatment. Why was there no A given? Whiplash treatment is extremely variable and no two patients respond the exact same way to interventions. Manual therapy and spinal manipulation work extremely well for patients if they are under a complete treatment plan, including specific, individualized stretches and activity of daily living modification.
6) Low speed motor vehicle accidents have the ability to cause longer lasting symptoms than expected.
Due to the physics of both the body and the seat of a car during a car accident, low speed MVAs result in maximum hyperextension of the neck. In higher speed MVAs, the back of the seat provides more protection and, thus, minimizes the amount and the force of neck extension. Moreover, vehicles with stiff, spring-like bumpers may help prevent damage to the car, but cause more whipping force through the neck in an accident.
7) In North Vancouver, ICBC Chiropractor programs provide the ability for full treatment plans to be covered 100%.
The ICBC Flat Fee program provides MVA victims with the option of no upfront costs. Both Dr. Lucas Tisshaw and Dr. Sarah Visconti participate in this program. Contact our North Vancouver Chiropractic and Massage Therapy clinic today for more information about Motor Vehicle and Whiplash treatment.