What happens inside of somebody’s body when they suffer through a whiplash injury has been studied by several different researchers. Two studies I am going to talk about; one from Japan and one from the United States did video analysis of what happens to people.
The one from Japan is one where they did 90 frames per second x-ray video of the spine. They actually saw how the spine was moving. What happens is that the occupant of the vehicle stays motionless in space as the car is propelled forward underneath them. The seat is bolted to the frame of the car and that goes forward along with the car. The occupant, his body starts to low the seat back. What happens is the spine starts to elongate, becoming longer, and the researchers from the United States state that the spine actually goes three-and-a-half inches in height longer. What that does is it starts to create an S-shape curve in the neck and that damages the ligaments, the discs, as well as the facet joints, the joints in the back part of the spine.
Just stretching the muscles will help from a whiplash injury. There is three plains of motion in the cervical spine, it’s the spine of the neck. What you want to do is you want to get to the end point of those ranges of motion and just stretch your muscles. The first one is rotation, so what the patient should do is take their range of motion all the way to the endpoint, and just feel it stretch. Of course you want to do it bilaterally. You want to go to both sides, and then what you want to do is hold that stretch at the endpoint for a count of ten.
The next plain of motion is flexion and extension. You want to take your range of motion to the end point and hold that at that point, and then back, and then feel all the muscles stretch in the front part of your neck for ten seconds. Each of those ranges of motion. The next one is lateral flexion. You want to stretch all of the muscles on the side of your neck on both sides. Get your head over the side. Hold it there for ten seconds. Obviously you want to do it both sides, or bilaterally.
One of the things that I see a lot of patients do that was popular in aerobics classes back years ago was to do the circumduction of the head. You do not want to do that because that is bad for the posterior joints of your neck.
A slipped disk is really a misnomer. It’s not really a disk that slips out of between your bony structures, your vertebrae in your body. What a slipped disk is, or we call it a prolapsed, or a bulging disk, is actually a weakened structure in the outer layers of the disk in between the vertebrae. There is a jelly-like, or a gelatinous type of substance in between those layers. That’s there to help cushion the disk, and allow enough space for the nerve to come out without being impeded.
What happens in a slipped disk is that there is a weakened structure outside of the nucleus, the annular fibers, that allows the jelly-like substance to extrude, or protrude out of the disk against the nerve. The nerve will send pain down into the back part of the leg, or into different, what we call dermatomal areas of the body. We can tell which levels of your spine have been injured by your symptoms that you tell us. That helps us determine or diagnose exactly which levels have been herniated or prolapsed. You can have a disk issue without having a true prolapse of the fibers all the way out. We can help with either of those different types of scenarios, where we do physical therapy, or different techniques where we can help alleviate the pain of a slipped disk.
Sciatic pain is a impingement of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the spine; it’s the longest nerve. It comes out of the lower back, goes down through the buttock area, down into the leg and people typically feel a numbness, burning or a pain down the back of the leg.
There are two major reasons for a sciatic condition. Number one is a herniated disc in the lower back. That can impinge upon the nerve as it exits the spinal bony structures of the lower back. Another issue is you could have spasms in a couple of the muscles in what we call the hip rotators; the muscles in the buttock area. Those can impinge upon or, if they are in spasm, they’ll actually pinch that nerve as it goes through the muscle. It’s called the piriformis muscle.
There are two major reasons for a sciatic condition. Number one is a herniated disc in the lower back. Another issue is you could have spasms in a couple of the muscles in what we call the hip rotator; the muscles in the buttock area.
If you think you have sciatic pain and need treatment, give Denver Integrated Spine a call today.
The best stretches you can do at home to help alleviate sciatic pain are two basic stretches: number one is to lay flat on your back, bring your knees to your chest, and hug your knees toward your chest and roll back and forth and that will help stretch the muscles in the lower back. It will also help open up the disc spaces in the lower back. There’s another stretch for the piriformis muscle that is very effective in helping alieve sciatic pain. The important thing is is to actually determine which of those two conditions is causing your sciatic pain and to get that looked at. That’s more important than actually doing the stretch at home. Then we can have some of our physical therapists help design a stretch program particularly for the condition.
There are two basic stretches that will help open up the disc spaces in the lower back. The important thing is to actually determine which of the two conditions is causing our sciatic pain and to get that looked at.
If you’re looking for relief from your sciatic pain, and stretching isn’t enough, give Denver Integrated Spine Center a call today.