Small Car Accident = Big Problem!

Small Car Accident = Big Problem!

Just about everyone has been involved in a car accident during their lives. From multi-car incidents to minor fender benders, even the slightest motor vehicle accident (MVA) can cause serious spinal problems, particularly in the neck due to whiplash injury.

How can a minor car accident create such a huge problem? Whiplash injury can happen regardless of which angle the accident happens from. A whiplash injury occurs in less than .5 seconds! Less than half a second! Obviously the more serious the impact, the more damage can be done, but research indicates that even accidents of less than 3 mph can cause cervical spine problems – particularly upper cervical subluxation.

Most people think that the head has to undergo full flexion and extension to damage tissue (looking all the way down and then all the way up) but this isn’t the case. Instead, it is the abnormal motion that occurs within and between vertebral segments that has the potential to injure facets, disks, and ligaments.

Whiplash injury can also cause:

1) Low back pain

2) Visual disturbances

3) Dizziness

4) Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

5) Weakness

6) Fatigue

7) Poor concentration

8) Poor memory

9) Difficulty sleeping

10) Psychological changes, such as depression


Disk injuries include:

1) Strain or avulsion of the anterior annulus (ripping the disk away from the vertebra)

2) Tearing of the posterior annulus (contributes to disk herniations later in life)

3) Disk herniation


Why such a diverse array of symptoms just from whiplash? For a few reasons. First of all, a whiplash injury can stretch the spinal cord, causing neurological trauma. Second, because the neurology of the cervical spine creates more input to the brain than many other areas of the body combined. Dysfunction in those pathways create functional brain imbalance and results in the manifestation of various different symptoms.

Of the above problems, the most common are acute or chronic neck pain or headaches. In fact, those who experience acute neck pain immediately following the car accident are 3x more likely to report chronic neck pain 7 years after the crash! (But most of those people likely never received a chiropractic adjustment after the accident.)

Recovery rates for acute whiplash injuries show:

1) 44% are not recovered at 3 months.

2) 30% are not recovered at 6 months.

3) 24% are not recovered at 12 months.

4) 18% are not recovered at 24 months.

So, what does this tell us? Car accidents we were involved in as children, long before we ever had our own car keys, can be the cause of chronic neck pain and dysfunction later in life.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Chiropractic adjustments remove the dysfunction created by a car accident. By helping to reestablish proper motion paterns of the neck and back, the spine is able to reconnect itself neurologically to the brain and to the rest of the body restoring proper function. It also aids in reduction of pain and discomfort. As indicated by the statistics just above, it makes sense why it would take time to fully recover from a car accident. Our objective is simply to help the body do it faster without dangerous medications.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, please have them Contact Us for a check up today.



“Chronic whiplash and whiplash-associated disorders: An evidence-based approach”

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons October 2007;15(10):596-606