Whiplash Injury, Severity, and Recovery

Experts estimate that whiplash associated disorders (WAD) from motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) affect about 300 for every 100,000 people in the Western each year. Suffice it to say, that’s a lot of people!

Crash tests have demonstrated that the risk for whiplash is much greater when the backrest is leaned backward and/or when a headrest is lacking (in older cars) or is too low in relation to the head. The key is to prevent the head from extending backward over the top of the seat, which can lead to more severe soft tissue injuries in the neck. While it’s not always possible to anticipate an MVC, past research has shown that looking forward at the time of the collision may reduce WAD injury/severity risk.

On the topic of necks, individuals with thinner necks have a greater risk for injury, which may explain why woman are more often affected by WAD than men. However, regardless of whether you are male or female, staying fit and keeping the neck muscles strong is important. It’s been suggested that individuals with a history of neck pain are more likely to experience more severe whiplash injuries, as are those in poor general health. There are conflicting studies that report that seat belt use may increase the risk for WAD, but after reviewing multiple studies, the consensus is that seat belts save lives, so buckle up!

In many cases, WAD patients may miss work, especially if they have a job with high physical demands. Patients with more severe injuries may miss up to twenty-five days of work, while those with minor injuries may still be out for up to ten days. One study found that about 31% of the 800 cases the researchers looked at took no time off work, 52% returned to work after only four days off, and 90% returned within thirty days off. About 4.9% of the patients in the study were still not working after twelve weeks.

Several factors suggest a WAD patient may experience a slower or more limited recovery: a history of neck pain; loss of neck motion measured post-MVC; increased sensitivity to cold stimulation; high pain levels post-MVC; less severe crash-type; dizziness, arm pain or numbness; low back pain; and poor expectations of recovery.

The good news is that treatment guidelines have consistently recommended spinal manipulation— the primary form of treatment provided by Pro Rehab Wilmington and Dr. James Sheehan for managing whiplash-related injuries.

Author
Dr. James Sheehan Dr. James Sheehan is an expert in the treatment of neck and back pain.

You Might Also Enjoy...

At-Home Exercise for Whiplash Associated Disorders

There is plenty of research supporting chiropractic care as an excellent approach for managing whiplash associated disorders (WAD). While the in-office treatment aspect of care—spinal manipulation, mobilization, soft tissue therapy, massage, modalities,...

10 Telltale Signs It’s Whiplash

If you’ve been in a car accident or suffered an injury to your neck and are experiencing pain or discomfort, take a moment to learn the signs to see if you might have whiplash.

How Chiropractic Care Can Ease Headache Pain

If chronic headaches are disrupting your life and traditional treatments haven’t brought you the relief you need, chiropractic care may offer a solution. Read on to learn how chiropractic care can ease your headache pain.

Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?

If you’re worried about osteoporosis, understanding your risk of developing this debilitating bone disease can help you take steps now to prevent future problems. Take a moment to learn more about osteoporosis.

Things to Consider Before Knee Joint Replacement

When it comes to a condition like chronic knee pain, there are many treatment options available to reduce pain and improve function, including chiropractic care. However, there are cases when a patient may opt for total knee arthroplasty (TKA).