Because of its location and functions, the neck is the part of the body that is majorly affected when one has a whiplash injury. The neck which is composed of ligaments, muscles, and tendons, support the head and allow a range of movement. When the neck and its connecting structures are damaged, the spine may also get affected. Neck injuries are not limited to neck fractures and dislocation but also lead to bulging of the spinal discs and premature disc degeneration.
When a bone receives more pressure than it can endure, the tendency is for it to break. This happens in whiplash injuries where a sudden and powerful impact shatters the body of the neck and causes fractures. The severity of a neck fracture is determined by the position of the head at impact and the direction of force that hit the neck.
Neck fractures can be treated. In coming up with treatment plans for this type of fracture, the patient’s age and physical health condition, as well as the gravity of damage to the neck are factored in.
Cervical bones may misalign when the ligaments that connect the vertebrae are overstretched and torn. Ligaments may become disrupted after a rapid flexion and extension of the neck. Disrupted ligaments separate from the vertebrae so the bone gets displaced forward and may permanently stay in that position.
Dislocation of the bone may pose a threat to the spinal cord and surgical intervention may be needed. The surgery will help the vertebrae to stabilize. Meanwhile, mild forms of dislocation may heal on its own with the use of a collar.
Herniated or Slipped Disc
Although the spine can withstand great pressure loads and reasonable deterioration, it is never exempted from severe injuries. In particular, due to accidents, the discs that are situated in between the spinal bones may slip or become herniated. The disc slips out and presses on nerves and tendons in the spinal column. Therefore, upper body pains such as in the fingers, hands, and arms and eventually, loss of sensation and strength in those body parts, are experienced.
This spinal condition needs to be given prompt medical attention. Unfortunately, it may take a couple of years before an injured party experience the severe symptoms of herniated disc. With this in mind, one who has been having whiplash after a car or any vehicular accident, should seek an immediate and extensive assessment of the condition to avoid occurrence of a more serious illness.
Premature Disc Degeneration
Changes in the spine occur as people age. Over time, the spine deteriorates thus causing difficulty or inability to bend and flex. As this is a normal body change, spine degeneration can be hastened by whiplash injuries. Degenerative arthritis that entails soreness of the joints may occur from this rapid disc degeneration.
One may undergo physical therapy to reduce the discomfort caused by this spine condition. Gentle neck exercises and other routines strengthen yet relax muscles in the neck that may be stiff due to whiplash.