Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in a rear-end motor vehicle collision besides a concussion. This injury results in very serious musculoskeletal pathology. When talking about pain in the neck after an accident, one of the first things that happens during the accident is the spine is compressed. Furthermore, while the spine is compressed, there is shearing of segmental vertebrae causing ligamentous damage. The spine will almost immediately tighten up the muscles around the vertebrates to stabilize the spine. When this happens we lose the segmental curvature of our spine resulting in loss of space for the nerves to leave the spine. This commonly will refer pain from the neck to the upper back and/or down the arm. Other common symptoms would be numbness, tingling, or in severe cases weakness from the disrupted nerve. Among other things that can happen during the accident is a facet injury.
After getting in a motor vehicle accident it is important to have a thorough evalulation and X-Rays taken to look for structural damage.
This is done through proper Flexion/Extension films, and depending on the accident leteral flexion films.
We are looking for vertebrae that slide forward and backwards with flexion and extension. This demonstrates ligament laxity/damage.
Ligamentous damage takes much longer to heal than muscular. Proper healing is essential for full recovery.