According to Journal of
the American Chiropractic Association(JACA)-WHIPLASH
DEBILITATING, YET OFTEN IGNORED.
Experts offer advice on
prevention and treatment of whiplash.
Whiplash affects more
than 3 million people each year, yet research into this
condition is severely under funded and little is done to
prevent it-according to the February 2000 issue of the JACA.
Although the United States spends as much as $23 billion
each year to treat whiplash, many lawyers, legislators and
medical doctors deny it's existence, says Dr. Arthur Croft.
a chiropractor and whiplash researcher.
This is beginning to
change as whiplash enters a new phase of research and
understanding, Dr. Croft and other whiplash researchers
point out in the February JACA.
"We have always known
that chiropractors are effective with whiplash, but there
were lots of theories as to why," explains Dr. Dan Murphy, a
chiropractor who teaches on the subject of whiplash
throughout the world. "Now, it appears that by the very
nature of what we do, chiropractors are most effectively
treating the tissues injured during the accident."
Two studies- one in the
Journal INJURY and another in the
JOURNAL OF ORTHOPEDIC MEDICINE. The studies
specifically look at people who failed under medical
management and were referred to chiropractors for treatment
of chronic whiplash pain. "In both studies," Dr. Murphy
says."the results were phenomenal, and one of the
conclusions is that chiropractic is the only proven
effective treatment for chronic whiplash.
In addition, research
soon to be published in the JOURNAL OF
MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN shows that there are risk
factors for acute whiplash injury and that chronic whiplash
pain can occur even after the most minor accidents. "We are
finding that risk factors for acute injury, such as having
the head rotated, being out of position in the vehicle, lack
of preparation for the crash, and being struck from the
rear, are present not only for initial injury, but also
chronic injury," explains Dr. Michael Freeman, a
chiropractor and PHD clinical assistant professor of
epidemiology at Oregon Health Sciences University School of
Medicine."If you are injured, whether the vehicle sustains
no damage or is totaled, there is a one-in-three chance you
will have chronic pain. It doesn't matter how much,or, how
little damage there is to the vehicle."
improvements are also being perfected in an effort to
prevent whiplash. Dr Croft reports in the JACA article that
seat and head restraint improvement have already been made
in a few models of Saab and Volvo. Sophisticated forward and
rear looking systems are also being developed to gauge the
distance between cars. A computer chip on board will contain
a preprogrammed set of instructions to allow calculation of
impending crash conditions. One of those will gauge speed
and if you are gaining on the car in front of you at what
the computer is programmed to consider a dangerous rate, it
will sound an alarm.
These new developments
are extremely important considering the largest single
contributor to chronic neck pain and overall spine pain is
motor vehicle crashes, the JACA article states. Of the 6
million injuries per year due to motor vehicle crashes,
about three million are whiplash-type injuries. Of those,
500,000 to 900,000 will develop chronic pain.
So, how many crashes
can actually be avoided? Perhaps only ten percent, according
to Dr. Croft. "But what we've found in our whiplash studies
is that the people that have the worst outcomes are the ones
who were caught absolutely unaware."
In the JACA article,
Dr. Croft shares seven ways to minimize pain and suffering
before, during and after a whiplash accident.
SHOP FOR A SAFER CAR.
Before you buy your
next car, compare vehicle structural design, vehicle size
and weight, and restraint systems, belts, airbags, head
restraints and crash avoidance features. Consider mass and
crashworthiness. "Smaller cars put you at greater risk,"
adds Dr. Croft. Also, check Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety ratings for safest seats, head restraints, etc.
KEEP HEAD RESTRAINTS IN
Eighty percent of cars
have the head restraint adjusted in the low position, yet
research showed that having no head restraint is safer than
having one in the low position. In addition, because head
restraints are designed to fit the average man, it can be
difficult for taller or shorter people to get a good fit.
Some add on head restraints are available, but check first
for safety approval and ease of installation.
PREPARE FOR THE CRASH
Crashes happen at
lightning fast speeds, but if you have time to prepare:
* Put your head and
neck all the way back so that your in contact with the seat
back and the properly adjusted head.
* Straight arm the
steering wheel and get a good grip.
* Put you foot on the
brake as hard as you can ( assuming that you are stopped, of
* Look straight ahead,
not in the rear view mirror. Don't have your head turned at
* Put your neck back
slightly so your eyes are looking level up at about the top
of the windshield.
* Scrunch your
shoulders up towards your ears and then brace.
Do what the doctor
orders. Exercises, ice, nutrition, soft collars for the
first few days, adjusted work stations, deep tissue work in
the early stages.
The treatments and the
ancillary products we recommend are fairly inexpensive and
none of them is dangerous or painful. It's worthwhile to
prevent these injuries from becoming chronic."
Positions to avoid, how
to sleep, conditions at work, these are everyday factors
that can hasten healing. For example, patients have problems
when their heads are turned for long periods of time, such
as when talking to someone to one side, looking out an
airplane window, or working at the computer with the copy on
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON
WHIPLASH TREATMENT PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE FOR AN APPOINTMENT
FOR A CONSULTATION AND/OR TREATMENT.