January 3, 2011

“Small” Fender Benders Can Cause BIG Pain

Scranton,-Rob-colorBy Robert Scranton, D.C.
Fibromyalgia Centers of America

“Little” accidents can cause major damage to the car’s occupants even though damage to the auto may be minor. It has been demonstrated that a sudden stop at only 5 M.P.H. is sufficient to produce a whiplash of the head and neck which can result in symptoms of headaches, neck pain, muscular stiffness, nervousness, irritability, distorted vision, numbness, etc., etc.

After a minor fender bender, the individuals involved will often feel they were lucky that both they and the car received little noticeable damage.

It may be days, weeks or even months before the whiplash victim begins to realize that the morning neck stiffness, recurring headaches, numbness in the fingers, etc. are connected with the accident.

In the article, “Objective Findings for Diagnosis of Whiplash” by Charles Carroll, M.D., Paul McAfee, M.D. and Lee Riley, Jr., M.D., published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine, the authors noted that “the amount of damage to the automobile bears little relation to the force applied to the cervical spine of the occupants. The acceleration of the occupant’s head depends on the force imparted, the moment on inertia of the struck vehicle, and the mount of collapse of force dissemination by the crumpling of the vehicle.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “More than 80 percent of all car crashes occur at speeds less than 10 M.P.H. Fatalities involving non-belted occupants of cars have been recorded at as low as 12 M.P.H. That’s about the speed you’d be driving in a parking lot.”

Besides being a pain in the neck, a whiplash (hyperflexion-hyperextension injury) is defined as “an injury to the cervical spine caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head, either forward or backward.”

When whiplash-type neck injuries occur, the sudden, forceful whipping movement of the head and neck serves to stretch or sprain or even year the muscles and ligaments which hold the spinal vertebrae within their normal range of movement.

Failure of these ligaments to hold the vertebrae in their proper alignment can limit the range of
movement of a vertebrae allowing it to slip into an abnormal position beyond its normal range of movement. When this occurs, the neck muscles will contract, sometimes severely in their attempt to pull the spine back into line and balance the head. This causes the symptoms of soreness and stiffness.

Also, when the above misalignment occurs, the nerve openings between the vertebrae are partially closed which serves to compress and irritate the spinal nerves. The result of compression or irritation of a spinal nerve is pain and/ or loss of function in those structures of face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest and back which are supplied by these injured nerves.

If you are involved in even a minor “fender bender,” don’t take chances; call us as quickly as
possible. We are specialists in structural and spinal disorders and will advise you sincerely and honestly.