Each year, whiplash affects more than two million Americans. Also known as a neck sprain/strain injury, whiplash occurs when an individual's head suddenly snaps back and forth or side-to-side beyond its normal limits. Common causes include motor vehicle accidents, falls, and high-impact sports such as surfing, horseback riding, gymnastics and football. Whiplash can also occur when a person sustains a blow to the head or concussion.
In many whiplash cases, symptoms can be so slight at first that an individual may not realize he/she has been injured. In fact, many whiplash injuries sustained during auto accidents occur at speeds as low as five to ten miles per hour - speeds well below the threshold for damage to the vehicle. Even if a person feels relatively normal after an accident, he/she should be thoroughly examined. Symptoms can be delayed for days, weeks or months.
The top two vertebrae in the neck, directly underneath the head, are the primary vertebrae involved in a whiplash injury. During a sudden impact, the rapid movement of the head and neck may cause supporting ligaments to be stretched, which forces the upper vertebrae out of their normal biomechanical position. Because so many nerves transmit through the upper neck - to and from the brain - trauma to this area may result in symptoms throughout the body. Common whiplash symptoms include neck and back pain, blurred vision, irritability, depression, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, numbness down the arms, nausea, ringing in the ears, jaw pain and face pain.
A chiropractic technique that focuses upon the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae, known as upper cervical care, provides a unique approach for whiplash injuries. Upper cervical chiropractic care utilizes two diagnostic tools - thermal imaging and digital X-rays - to accurately assess a cervical injury. After determining a diagnosis of cervical injury, each patient's injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially designed knee chest table. Many patients notice improvement in pain, neurological and other whiplash symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been working with whiplash sufferers for the past two years on Maui. For more information on upper cervical care and trauma-induced cervical injuries, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.