4 Phases of Whiplash

Man feeling bad after a car accident injuryWhiplash injuries are a common consequence associated with motor vehicle accidents.  The vast majority of patients going to chiropractors for neck pain treatment suffer from whiplash injury. Whiplash injury can remain unnoticeable for months. A typical whiplash injury inside the car takes place in four phases, and all these steps take place within one-half a second.

Phase 1

This first step is when the car rapidly moves forward from under the passenger. During phase one, the passenger’s mid back presses against the seat. As a result of the sudden change of posture, the passenger’s cervical spine will experience an upward force; this movement will apply a considerable force on the disks and the joints. Concurrently, body’s torso will be pressed forward while the head moves backward. Within a fraction of a second, the neck will experience a tremendous force.

Phase 2

At this stage, torso moves forward reaching the maximum speed (even faster than the vehicle’s motion). At the same time, the head still moves backward. This formation makes an unusual ‘S’ shaped curve in the spine. As a result of this unbearable force, injuries tend to occur on nerves, discs, joints and bones.

Phase 3

Phase three is the step where the torso descends back. Unfortunately, by this moment, the head and neck have achieved their peak forward acceleration while the car slows down. In fact, at this time, the passenger is more likely to reapply the brakes (which were released during the first phase). As a result of this sudden slowing down of the vehicle, the severity of the injury on the neck may increase.

Phase 4

This last phase is recognized to be the most dangerous. At this moment, the passenger’s torso is completely restrained (because of the functionality of the seat belt), but the head is freely moveable. The result of this movement is extremely harmful; the neck bends forward with an immense force causing strains on the muscles and ligaments. Apart from that, it can tear fibers linked to the spinal disc.  Nerve roots and spinal cord are in extreme danger at this moment. Depending on the type of the collision, even a brain injury can take place at this stage.

After a collision, even a mild neck pain shouldn’t be neglected. The best thing to do is to consult a certified chiropractor and get necessary neck pain treatment other than trying DIY methods.

For more information on whiplash treatments, contact Hooper-Thurston Elite Chiropractic at 252-237-2166.