Many of us will experience some form of motor vehicle accident in our lives (although wish we hadn’t!). Even the most minor of impacts can leave us with some pretty significant pain and disability. Of course it’s not just car accidents that can cause whiplash injuries, any event that causes a sudden, unexpected and forceful movement of the head and neck may lead to whiplash associated disorders.
Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe a range of injuries to the neck caused by a sudden deceleration in any plane of movement and is characterised by a violent movement in one direction followed quickly by a rebound movement in the opposite direction.
When a car is rear-ended, the passengers in the front vehicle are suddenly flung backwards forcing their heads and necks into extension. The momentum of the impact immediately throws them forward into flexion and then finally back into extension again as the impact dissipates. This causes the bones and soft tissues in the neck to be flung up against their limits of movement. As the movement is sudden and unanticipated, the body’s natural reaction is to contract muscles against the momentum to protect the neck. The cost of this is soft tissue damage.
Consider our seatbelts: right shoulder down to left hip and across the pelvis for the drivers side and the opposite for the passenger side. In a rear impact, we are thrown against the seat belt which locks to save our lives. In the case of the driver, his body will fold diagonally around the belt and he will be flung to the right side. The seat belt will tension and his pelvis will be pulled backwards into the seat. This causes a complex injury pattern.
Furthermore, our internal organs are suspended from our musculoskeletal system. In an impact there is nothing to stop them from being flung backwards and forwards in our body and they too suffer whiplash type injuries and create significant stress through their attachments.
As you can begin to see, whiplash injury may be significant. Your local Osteopaths are experts at understanding and treating such injury.
Please drive safely.