Most people call injuries from an auto accident "Whiplash", which is slang for an acceleration-deceleration injury or a hyper-flexion/hyper-extension injury. Most assume that this can only cause neck pain, but these types of injuries can cause damage and pain to the neck, mid-back or lower back, as well as headaches, jaw pain, and numbness in the arms and/or legs.
There are four phases to the mechanism of injury, they are;
Phase 1: The neck/spine straightens: At about 65-100 msec. (milliseconds), the car is propelled forward, but you -- the driver -- remain remain stationary so the car seat pushes our body forward but your neck/head stay behind. This creates the classic "S-shaped curve" in your spine.
Phase 2: The neck/spine curves back: At about 150 msec., the head extends back and hopefully hits a properly positioned headrest, or else it keeps going back, injuring the spinal structures in the front of the spine. if the head extends back too far, injuries to the back of the spine then occur.
Phase 3: The neck/spine curves back to a maximum: At about 175 msec., the tissues in the back of the spine compress whilst those in front of the spine fully stretch and act like rubber bands getting ready to spring the head/neck forwards. (phase 4)
Phase 4: Rebound: At about 200-300 msec., the tissues in the front of the neck propel the head/neck forwards and injury can then occur to the structures in the back of the spine from over-stretching, or, in the front of the spine from over-compression.
Basically, the spinal joints move faster than the muscles are able to protect it, and then damage occurs to the spine. In fact, studies show that there can be damage in an auto accident even when the impact is as low as 5 mph.
The injuries from an auto accident cause inflammation, swelling, pain, as well as muscle spasm. The damage to the neck and back cause a process of healing in four phases. They are;
1) Initial vascular reaction (also called active swelling)
2) Inflammatory response (also called the passive congestive phase)
3) Proliferative phase (also called the reparative phase)
4) The remodeling phase.
The major goals of care in our office are pain relief, to promote healing, restore and maintain function, reduce the likelihood of reinjuries, and to prevent increased degeneration. Dr. Popowich has helped hundreds of people who have suffered from the results of auto injuries. He is Certified in Treating Spinal Trauma from the Internation Chiropractic Association's council on Applied Chiropractic Science. He has also testified as an expert witness on auto injury cases. Dr. Popowich provides gentle and effective care for injuries from auto accidents. He is also able to refer you for special testing, such as MRI studies and nerve conduction studies, if needed. Dr. Popowich also works with local medical offices, so if a referral or a second opinion is needed with a medical doctor or physical therapist, you can be assured of a multidiscilinary approach when needed.
To learn more about our office or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 203-304-9037. We look forward to serving you.