Whiplash is also known as CAD (Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration syndrome). Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back.
The symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, and too often people do not seek treatment simply because they do not feel hurt. But by then some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent. Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries.
Facet Joint Pain
Facet joint pain is the most common cause of neck pain following a car accident. It is usually felt on the back of the neck, just to the right or left of center, and is usually tender to the touch. Facet joint pain cannot be visualized on X-rays or MRIs, so in order to assess if it is truly a facet problem that is causing cervical spondylosis, two diagnostic medial branch blocks are performed before a Radiofrequency Ablation can be considered.
Disc injury is another common cause of neck pain, and especially chronic pain. The outer wall of the disc (called the annulus) is made up of bundles of fibers that can be torn during a whiplash trauma. This tear can lead to disc herniation or degeneration, resulting in irritation or compression of the nerves running through the area. This compression or irritation commonly leads to radiating pain to the arms, shoulders, and upper back, and may result in muscle weakness.
After neck pain, headaches are the most prevalent complaint among those suffering from whiplash injury, affecting more than 80% of the people. While some headaches are actually the result of direct brain injury, most are related to injury of the muscles, ligaments, and facet joints of the cervical spine. Our providers work to assess the true cause of the headaches and work with you to make an individualized plan of care. We can provide Botox injections and Third Occipital Nerve Blocks for management of these headaches.
A less common, but debilitating disorder that results from whiplash is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). TMJ usually begins as pain, clicking and popping noises in the jaw during movement. If not rigorously evaluated and treated, TMJ problems can continue to worsen and lead to headaches, facial pain, ear pain and difficulty eating. Our providers can do nerve blocks on the trigeminal or occipital nerves to treat the pain arising from TMJ.
Low Back Pain
Although most people consider whiplash to be an injury of the neck, the low back is commonly injured as well. In fact, low back pain is found in more than half of rear impact-collisions in which injury was reported, and almost three-quarters of all side-impact crashes. This is mostly due to the fact that the low back still experiences a tremendous compression during the time of injury, even though it does not have the degree of flexion-extension injury experienced in the neck.