Watersports and whiplash
For many surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers, watersports are not just a sport – they are a way of life. Most watersports enthusiasts will report experiencing rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit with just a single surf session. While there are numerous benefits from these sports, watersports athletes, like all athletes, are susceptible to injury through trauma and overuse.
One of the most common watersports injuries occurs when the athlete takes a sudden wipeout in the ocean, where his or her head and neck are jerked back and forth or side to side beyond normal limits, resulting in whiplash. In many whiplash cases, symptoms can be so slight at first that an individual may not realize he/she has been injured. Over time, watersports athletes may report chronic neck pain, difficulty turning the head from side to side, nerve pain and/or numbness and tingling down the arms, headaches and jaw pain.
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. These injured vertebrae typically remain locked in the altered position, causing chronic pain and pinched nerve symptoms.
Fortunately, a chiropractic technique that focuses upon the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae – known as upper cervical care – provides an effective 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 watersports athletes notice improvement in pain, neurological and other symptoms with just a few treatments.
Upper cervical care provides a unique approach for the treatment of trauma-induced cervical injuries. The goal of treatment is to return surfers to their sport and lifestyle as quickly as possible.
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 watersports athletes for the past five 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.