We have been providing treatment for whiplash in San Francisco for over 21 years now.
“Whiplash” is considered a non-medical
term that encompasses a range of injuries. These injuries typically affect the
neck and are caused by a sudden movement of the cervical spine associated with extension
or forceful backward bending. The medical term “cervical
acceleration-deceleration” (CAD) is considered to be a more accurate
description of what happens during a car accident, and the term “whiplash
associated disorders” (WAD) describes the injury’s residual signs and symptoms.
WAD or CAD is most commonly associated
with motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), when a vehicle is struck from behind.
Other less common causes include: dancing (especially “headbanging”), falls
from stools or ladders, bicycle injuries, horse related injuries, and many
others. In the UK
in 2007, 430,000 people made an insurance claim for WAD, accounting for 14% of
every driver’s premium. In the US,
over 1 million WAD injuries occur annually due to car accidents alone with an
estimated 3.8 cases per 1000 people per year. An estimated 6.2% of the US population has
“late whiplash syndrome” or long-term problems associated with WAD.
Prior to the advent of the automobile,
WAD was referred to as “railroad spine” (as it resulted from a train crash),
first documented in 1919. WAD also occurred frequently in pilots landing on
aircraft carriers due to the rapid deceleration that occurred as the planes
landed and suddenly braked. When one thinks of “whiplash,” the visual of a high
speed crash comes to mind. However, WAD can occur at speeds less than 15 mph
due to less crash energy absorption by crushing metal. Since there is less car
damage at lower speeds, that energy is transferred to the contents (the people)
inside the car.
The neck consists of 7 vertebrae, the
6 disks, the 8 pairs of nerves, and the muscles, ligaments and other
“soft-tissues.” There are 4 phases of injury (initial, retraction, extension
and rebound), which all occur within 300 msec. Whereas, it takes about 800msec
to voluntarily contract a muscle. Therefore, you can’t really “prepare” or
fully brace for the impact. Most injuries occur at C5 and C6 in the lower part
of the neck between 150 and 300 msec. of the cycle. Factors that influence
injury include: the seat back angle, the seat back rebound, the headrest
position, the direction the head is positioned at impact (worse if rotated),
the occupants gender (females are at greater risk due to a more thin, less
muscular neck), the size of each vehicle involved, and more. All these factors
make it extremely challenging to accurately reconstruct a MVC on paper.
The most common symptoms associated
with WAD include neck pain, upper back pain and headaches. There can also be referred pain into the
mid-back or down an arm and sometimes legs (sciatica). The onset of symptoms can be
immediate or delayed for days. Risk factors that worsen the prognosis of a case
include: the presence of radiating pain from the neck to the arm and hand that
follows a specific nerve, failure to respond to initial treatment, a delay in
getting treated, and being placed in a cervical collar (especially if not
allowing to be mobilized and exercised — i.e. chiropractic care). The key to
the success of WAD treatment is to get treated immediately, don’t restrict
yourself to a cervical collar, unless you have an unstable fracture, and do
your prescribed custom exercises!
We realize you have a choice in where you choose your healthcare
services. If you, a friend or family
member requires care for whiplash, we sincerely appreciate the trust and
confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and
your family presently and, in the future.
To schedule an appointment or complimentary phone consultation with one of our San Francisco Whiplash Doctors call 415-392-2225.
Serving local 94111 and surrounding areas since 1992