Fairview Chiropractor | Fairview chiropractic care | NC | July Newsletter

2 Fairview Hills Drive
Fairview, NC 28730

   Edward Reilly, DC

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July Newsletter

Whiplash!  More than just a pain in the neck!

By Dr. Ed Reilly

The Problem

Whiplash injuries can be caused by automobile accidents, falls and in “collision” sports such as boxing and football. This article will focus on the most common cause, automobile accidents. Of the millions of people who visit doctors or chiropractic each year, a large number have had whiplash injuries that create a myriad of symptoms often months or years after the initial injury. These patients often can’t identify a specific event creating the symptoms prompting their office visit and generally discount prior motor vehicle accidents as being related to their current problems.


Whiplash is the term used to identify a type of spinal injury where the head/neck is unexpectedly or suddenly thrown first in one direction and then pulled in the opposite direction because the muscle reacts to the initial injury by pulling or rebounding in the opposite direction. This rebound can and often does cause injury to soft tissues-muscles, ligaments, tendons and even bone injury including fractures. Unlike bone fractures which heal stronger than before, soft tissue heals as scar tissue which is weaker and less resistant; just like a bruised apple it never returns to its original state. Many factors can complicate the severity of injuries, for example the position of your head at impact, looking left or right, bracing for the impact or the position of your headrest. Studies have shown serious injury can result at collision speeds of less than 5 mph with little or no vehicle damage.


It’s Not in Your Head

It is estimated that more than 10% of the population or 20 million people in the United States suffers from acute or chronic whiplash injuries at any one time. Studies indicate that 86% of all neck injuries are from car accidents and 85% of these injuries are the result of rear-end collisions even though frontal impacts are more common. Commonly reported symptoms include neck pain, headaches, numbness, coldness or “pins and needles” in the face, chest, arms, wrists or hands. They can also include anxiety, insomnia, low back pain, ear ringing, blurred vision, hearing loss,dizziness, sensitivity to light, restricted neck movements and jaw pain.


Initial symptoms following a motor vehicle accident may seem minor or are significantly relieved with pain medicine and muscle relaxants, however the healing, rehabilitation and strengthening of damaged structures of the spine is incomplete and generally leads to many of the chronic symptoms described above without proper care. Chronic muscle spasms, excessive scar tissue formation, arthritis and disc degeneration may all occur without treatment of the soft-tissue and mechanical injuries of the neck and spine.


There’s Help

Doctors who understand the biomechanics involved in whiplash injuries (especially to the spine) will know the best way to treat these injuries and reduce the likelihood of a chronic condition(s) developing. Chiropractors are uniquely trained, (including four years of college then another four years of graduate school and a two year residency) to diagnose and treat whiplash symptoms using spinal manipulation (adjustments) and related relief, rehabilitation and strengthening therapies. Researchers have concluded that early chiropractic intervention is the superior treatment option. A recent study in a respected medical publication, the Journal of Orthopedics Medicine stated: Conventional treatment of patients with whiplash symptoms is disappointing. A retrospective study by Woodard et. al., demonstrated that chiropractic treatment benefited 26 of 28 patients suffering from whiplash syndrome.” Many other scientific studies agree--chiropractic works where other treatments don’t. Chiropractic addresses underlying soft-tissue and biomechanical problems that are the real cause of symptoms.



1. Wear your seat belt when you drive to reduce your overall risk of injury and comply with the law. Ironically seat belts by the act of holding our body/trunk in place actually increase the whipping action to our heads in a rear-end collision and increase whiplash trauma.

2. Adjust the headrest in your car to the appropriate level. The headrest should be adjusted so the middle of the headrest is level with the middle of the back of your head, you can feel a bony bump on the back center part of your head. This is where you need to line up the middle of the headrest with. Having your headrest too high or low can significantly increase the severity of even the most minor accidents.

3. If you have an accident and are injured, go to an emergency room to make sure you haven’t sustained broken bones or internal injuries.

4. Get a thorough evaluation by a chiropractor to address soft-tissue and biomechanical problems and determine if chiropractic can help you.

5. Evaluate your insurance coverage for medical reimbursement of automobile injuries. Supplemental medical benefits are available through your auto insurance carrier called Med-pay. Med-pay insurance provides extremely low cost medical claims coverage without deductibles and can limit your out of pocket medical expenses in recovering from an whiplash injury.

6. If you feel an insurance company is being unfair to you consult an attorney to determine your rights.

If you have immediate questions you may contact me directly at 628-7800.



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