Neck pain from automobile crashes is commonplace. Oftentimes, pain goes away in the short term, but for some crash victims (estimated to be about 25%) the pain becomes chronic. Of the 15%-35% of Americans who experience long term problems with neck and back pain, about a third attribute it to a car crash from years before. If you’re one of these unfortunate people, you might be in constant pain, or you might have a vulnerable neck that flares up from even a slight provocation – like sitting at your desk too long or going for an extended car ride.
And even for those whose pain seems to go away, the experience of the accident and the process of healing takes a longer-term toll. Some researchers are convinced that being in a car crash accelerates what would be considered the “normal” wear-and-tear degeneration of the spinal joints, leading to earlier problems with neck arthritis.
Pain is only one of the challenges of whiplash. A whiplash injury is complex. It doesn’t just strain your muscles and wrench your joints. It triggers a reaction from a range of body control mechanisms; your joints, muscles, nervous system, hormones, and stress-reaction systems continue to function in a less-than-optimal way.
The list of symptoms that can arise from whiplash injury is vast, and includes not just pain, but
- visual and auditory disturbances
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain and dysfunction
- sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- difficulties with concentration and memory loss
- anxiety and/or depression
Take a fresh approach
It’s understandable that the human neck, along with the movement control systems that operate it, hasn’t been designed by evolution to cope with the forces generated by a car crash. That’s what makes recovery from whiplash a challenge.
If you’ve had a car crash, even if it was years ago, and you have ongoing pain or problems with balance, mood, energy, or other symptoms, you’ve got to take your problem seriously. But don’t give up on yourself and the innate ability every human has to heal.
Give yourself the time and opportunity to heal – even if you’ve been stuck with symptoms for years, taking a fresh, multiple-systems approach to your problems can get results.
Adopt a multiple systems approach:
- Seek chiropractic care that includes gentle mobilization of the spinal joints along with methods that stimulate the muscles and connective tissues and calm the nervous system
- Optimize your self-care
- Plan for a good night’s sleep
- Examine your strategies for adapting to stress and improve them where possible
- Ensure that your chairs, bed, and car provide proper support of neck posture
- Utilize nutritional and herbal support to minimize pain, resolve inflammation, promote tissue repair, and enhance your stress adaptation
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