The Link Between Whiplash and Spinal Cord Injuries

The Link Between Whiplash and Spinal Cord Injuries

Over one million people suffer from whiplash injuries each year. Most of these cases are from the neck being forcibly slammed back and forth in an automobile accident, which is probably the image you have in your head when someone says “whiplash.” But you can get whiplash from other situations where your neck violently jerks around, such as in work accidents or sports injuries. 

Most people think that whiplash is a minor injury that will heal quickly, and in most cases, it is fully healed in approximately three months. However, that’s not always the case. Some people suffer from chronic problems related to whiplash for the rest of their lives. 

The neck is the cervical spine, so it is part of the spinal cord. Therefore, an injury to the neck could travel down the spinal cord and result in damage that may affect the entire body. Read on to see how whiplash could affect the spinal cord and what can be done to treat it properly. 

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash can occur even in a minor car accident, but can cause painful problems that may not be felt immediately. Even if you feel fine after a fender bender, it’s best to get checked by a physician or chiropractor for unseen – and unfelt – injuries.

After the adrenaline has worn off and time has passed, individuals who were in a car accident may start to notice some of the following symptoms of whiplash:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea
  • Lower back pain
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Limited range of motion, particularly in the neck
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Sleep problems
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Some of these symptoms may dissipate over time as the body heals itself, but some may last years and require treatment to be resolved. In fact, one study showed that five years after an accident, those with whiplash casualties have a poorer quality of life physically compared to other mildly injured casualties.

Another potentially significant injury that patients with whiplash may experience is a spinal cord injury either immediately following the crash or after some time has passed. Since the neck is forcefully stretched, it may overextend the spinal cord, causing damage which may lead to leaking blood vessels and nerve issues.

Does Whiplash Affect Your Back?

If you’ve been diagnosed with whiplash – or even if you haven’t, but have been in a car accident – you should watch for specific symptoms, which may signify a spinal cord injury in your back.

As the neck is the cervical spine, it is connected to the rest of your spinal cord. If your neck has been injured with a forceful jerk, such as that which occurs in an automobile accident, it can travel down the spine and cause problems elsewhere in the body. The ligaments, muscles, and other structures of the spinal region have various nerve supplies, which when injured, can send pain signals throughout the body.

Spinal cord injuries may result in symptoms like:

  • Lower back pain
  • Decreased motion
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Pain 
  • Spasms
  • Breathing issues
  • Loss of balance control
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

If you’ve experienced a car accident and notice any of these symptoms, you should get an immediate medical evaluation. 

What Are Treatment Options Following Whiplash and Spinal Cord Injury?

Of course, following a car accident or upon the realization that your symptoms point to spinal cord injury, you should immediately visit your medical doctor for a complete evaluation and treatment options. However, you also have the option of visiting a chiropractor for natural, drug-free treatments.

Make an initial appointment with your chiropractor for an evaluation, as the spinal cord should be treated as soon as possible to prevent further problems. Following your exam, your chiropractor will probably suggest a time period of around six months to allow your body to naturally heal and stabilize before beginning rehabilitation. 

Your chiropractor has the training and education to align the spine and vertebrae back into their proper positions following an accident that causes whiplash and spinal cord injuries. Pressure you may be feeling in the back and neck can be relieved, increasing blood flow so healing can take place quickly and naturally.

The treatment will not only get the body back into proper position, it can alleviate pain and symptoms while improving your overall health and well-being through regular chiropractic visits. To learn more about how your chiropractor can help with whiplash and spinal cord injuries, schedule a chiropractic appointment online or call us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.