Putting Whiplash Misconceptions to Rest


Teenage Driver Suffering Whiplash Injury Traffic Accident

Teenage Driver Suffering Whiplash Injury Traffic Accident

Whiplash and its associated disorders (WAD) is a constellation of symptoms usually, but not always, following a motor vehicle collision. There are other types of mechanisms that cause whiplash, skiing, snow-boarding and sports injuries to name a few. The most common complaints are headaches, neck pain, mid- and lower back pain, concussions and TMJ (jaw) pain, but there are a lot of other injuries that we see less commonly in our practice. Dental and bone fractures, shoulder separations, and joint injuries all occur less frequently.

There are several misconceptions surrounding the whiplash phenomenon. One of the most common being that the more damage to a car the more injury potential it has. Romilly, et al, in their paper refuted this notion. They stated that cars behave differently at different speeds. Cars are stiffer these days compared to 20 years ago. This stiffness makes them accelerate faster when hit at lower speeds compared to a car that would start to crush during a crash. Think of two billiard balls hitting each other as compared to two squishy oranges rolling into each other. (Science folks: Google plastic versus elastic collisions). When a collision reaches a high enough impact speed the car will start to crush. This crushing actually reduces the acceleration to the car and the occupant. This is why they put crumple zones in cars; to make them less injurious.

Another misconception is that there is an injury threshold. That is, some people say that the car that hits your car must be going fast enough to accelerate your car to 5 mph for you to be injured. The truth of the matter is that an injury threshold has never been established.

There are several risk factors that can predispose you to being more easily injured. Some of these are gender, body and/or head position at time of impact, awareness of impending impact, pre-existing degenerative changes (arthritis) and prior injuries to the affected area.

Lastly, another misconception is that you must hit your head or have a loss of consciousness in order to have a concussion. This is also not true. While these two factors increase the head injury potential, rapid acceleration to the head can cause concussive symptoms. Fortunately, most concussions are self-limiting and the symptoms usually lessen within weeks and usually resolve within a year. Of course there are always exceptions.

If you are suffering from auto injury pain, we can help! Here at Denver Integrated Spine Center we are a multi-disciplinary practice featuring a Medical Doctor, Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Massage and acupuncture. All of the services we offer are likely covered by auto insurance – that means no money out of your pocket!