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Can Whiplash Affect More Than Your Neck?

Whiplash is a generic term applied to injuries of the neck caused when the neck is suddenly or violently jolted in one direction and then another, creating a whip-like movement. Whiplash is most commonly seen in people involved in motor vehicle accidents, but it can also occur from falls, sports injuries, work injuries, and other incidents.

Whiplash injuries can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including neck pain, headaches, fatigue, upper back and shoulder pain, cognitive changes and even low back pain. Since numerous factors play into the overall whiplash trauma, such as direction of impact, speed of the vehicles involved, as well as gender, age and physical condition, it is impossible to predict the pattern of symptoms that everyone will suffer. Additionally, whiplash symptoms commonly have a delayed onset, often taking weeks or months to present.

There are, however, a number of conditions that are very common among those who have suffered from whiplash such as follows. Headaches due to neck problems are called cervicogenic or neck-related headaches. They may be due to injury to an upper cervical disc or facet joint. Arm pain and heaviness may be due to nerve compression from a herniated disc, which is easy for your chiropractor to diagnose. More commonly, arm pain is “referred” from other parts of the neck. “Referred pain” is pain that is felt at a place away from the injured areas, and due to pressure on a nerve. Pain between the shoulder blades is usually a type of referred pain. Low back pain is occasionally seen and is quite common after whiplash and may be due to injury to the discs, facet joints of the low back or sacroiliac joints. Difficulties with concentration or memory can be due to pain itself, medications you are taking for the pain, depression or mild brain injury. You might also experience irritability and depression. Sleep disturbance can be due to pain or depression. Other symptoms might include blurry vision, ringing in the ears, tingling in the face and fatigue.

If you feel like you’ve experienced whiplash, fill out the contact us form to schedule a complimentary consultation. Our Chiropractors will discuss the injury, examine your neck and spine to see what else may have been affected to appropriately diagnose the root cause of your pain. We look at your entire musculoskeletal system as the pain could be referring to or from another problem area, and provide you with all the answers you need to make a sound decision on your care.

- Dr. M. David Clifton, D.C., C.C.E.P.

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