Category Archives: Neck Pain

This Common Car Crash Injury Leads To Bigger Problems

Sub failure Injuries

Whiplash Is Not A Diagnosis

Not a week goes by that a patient doesn’t come in and tell me that he/she has or had whiplash.  Whiplash is not an injury, it’s a mechanism of injury.  Saying you have whiplash would be like saying you have “fell on my back” or “slip and fall”.

So now that we understand that whiplash is not an injury, lets talk about one of the most common injuries whiplash can cause…Subfailure Injuries.

Subfailur Ligament Injuries

Ligaments are fiberous connective tissue that hold bony joints together.  They attach from bone-to-bone with the purpose of stabilizing joints and allowing them to move within their normal range of motion.  Unlike other connective tissue, such as muscles, they are not very elastic and do not stretch very well.  This is critical to understanding how these tissue get injured in car crashes.

Ligament Instabilities Defined

“The loss of the ability of the spine under physicologic loads to maintain relationships between vertebrae in such a way there is neither damage nor subsequent irritation to the spinal cord or nerve roots, and, in addition, there is not development of icapacitating deformity or pain due to structural changes.”

White AA, Panjabi MM:  The problem of clinical instability in the human spine:  a system approach.  Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine.  1978:192

The adult cervical spine is unstable when:

  1. a)  All the anterior or all the posterior elements are destroyed or unable to function.
  2. b)  More than 3.5mm horizontal displacement of one vertebra in relation to an adjacent vertebrae measured on lateral x-rays.
  3. c)  More than 11º or rotation difference to that of either adjacent vertebra measured on lateral cervical neutral or flexion-extension x-rays.
  4. d)  Cervical kyphosis.

Future Health Problems

Joint instabilities resulting from ligament injuries causes not only increased pain but may also lead to additional health problems including: disc derangement, degenerative changes, increased pain, nerve entrapment and spinal cored compression.

Proper Diagnosis Leads To Proper Treatment

Special evaluation of joint instabilities needs to be considered when determining the most appropriate treatment.  Frequently joint instabilities will not be detectable on neutral lateral and anterior x-rays, cervical flexion/extension and open mouth lateral bending films should be taken to determine the true integrity of the spinal ligaments.  If injuries to the lumbar spine are suspected; flexion/extension and lateral bending films of the lumbar spine are recommended.  Think about an athlete with a torn ACL; the knee and supporting ligaments may appear fine in the neutral position but when the knee is put under stress with pushing or pulling the lower leg, pain is created because the injured ligaments are stressed. Similarly many injures in the spine will only present themselves when the spine is stressed in flexion/extension or lateral bending.

Special consideration needs to be considered with treating injuries with instabilities because improper treatments and irritate and potentially make the instabilities worse.

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Loss of Neck Curve Effects Recovery From Whiplash Injuries – Square One- Fort Collins Chiropractor

Many people report being in one or more car crashes at some point in their lives.  And with advances in technology also comes additional distractions which has only led to increases in car crashes.   The increase in number of MVCs (motor vehicle crash), has both health and financial implications.

With the increase in MVCs there have also been advances in understanding what factors could impact the injures and recovery from MVCs.

What many lay people, (and physicians), do not realize is the extent your cervical curve plays in both the damaging effects a whiplash injury could have on you  and how  loss of a normal curve could effect your recovery form a whiplash injury

Normal Cervical Curve Protects You From Whiplash Injury

Research has shown that having a normal cervical curve actually protects you from injury.  A loss of a cervical curve or even worse a reversal of the curve (cervical kyphosis) has been shown to make you more susceptible to spinal injuries.   This means that if you lack a normal cervical curve you will have greater injuries and more severe damage to the spinal tissues following a whiplash injure compared to someone with a normal cervical curve exposed to the same whiplash forces. (1)

Obviously if you have a reduced cervical curve or a reversal of a cervical curve it would be wise to rehabilitate your normal cervical curve back towards normal before an injury takes place.

Whiplash Can Cause A Loss Of The Normal Cervical Curve

MVCs significantly reduces the normal cervical lordosis.  Research from Chiropractic BioPhysics has shown that the average person exposed to a MVC will suffer a 10˚ loss of the normal cervical curve, develop a mid-cervical lordosis (reversal of cervical curve), and have an increased head posture from the MVC. (2)

Watch This Video To learn More About Loss of Curve From Whiplash

Health Problems Related To Loss Of Cervical Curve

In terms of pain and suffering, research has shown that the individuals that suffer from longterm whiplash injuries following a MVC are those that have a loss or reversal of the cervical curve.  Straightened, S-curve or reversals of the cervical curve have been found to produce the following symptoms: (3-7)

  • Neck pain & stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Thoracic outlet syndrom
  • Arm pain
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Disc bulges & herniations
  • Dizziness & vertigo
  • Lack of concentration

What many people do not realize is a slight headache or neck pain and stiffness is usually a sign of a much more severe injury to the cervical spine and surrounding tissues.  Spinal misalignments as a result of sudden jerk in a whiplash injury may have symptoms immediately following an injury or make take a long time to appear.  But a lake of initial symptoms does not mean there is not injury so a proper examination to evaluate the spine for any potential injuries should be done regardless of symptoms.

What can be done to improve cervical lordosis?

If you have been involved in a car crash please see a highly trained corrective care chiropractor.  Small injuries become big injuries and the earlier they are addressed the easier they are to correct.

Before Treatment After Treatment
                    Before Treatment                                                                       After Treatment

Square One is an Advanced Chiropractic BioPhysics office.  Corrective methods using Chiropractic BioPhysics technique is the CBP Certificationonly true evidence based method shown to clinically and statistically improve cervical lordosis without surgery.  Chiropractic BioPhysics Certified Doctors are the most highly trained doctors for non-surgical structural spinal correction.

For a FREE consultation regarding your spinal injuries or condition give us a call at 970-207-4463.

 

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References:

1) Stemper et al. Journal of Biomechanics 2005: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15863116

2)  7 Harrison DE, Katz E. Abnormal static sagittal cervical curvatures following motor vehicle collisions: Literature review, original data, and conservative management strategies. Proceedings of the International Whiplash Trauma Congress 2006; Portland, OR, June 2-3, pages 24-25.

3) Kai et al. Journal of Spinal Disorders 2001: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Kai+Journal+of+Spinal+Disorders
4 Hohl M. Journal of bone and Joint Surgery Am. 1974: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4434036
5 Norris SH and Watt I. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1983: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6643566
6 Giuliano V. Emergency Radiology 2002: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15290548
7 Kristjansson E, et al. JMPT 2002: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?