What Is Whiplash Associated Disorder?

May 11, 2021

What Is Whiplash Associated DisorderThe term “whiplash” can be used in a variety of ways. Literally, it means the acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck, usually during a high impact event like a car accident in which the head moves back and forth violently. It is also often used as a figurative way to describe life circumstances that have changed quickly. But when most people think of whiplash, they think of the injury that occurs as a result of the injury mechanism described here.

While this is a common term for the set of symptoms incurred during impact, Whiplash Associated Disorder is the clinical term for the symptoms and conditions that may arise after this event. When you visit a whiplash chiropractor, they are looking to diagnose Whiplash Associated Disorder and create a treatment plan to aid in recovery.

Signs of Whiplash Associated Disorder

Whiplash Associated Disorder can present in a range of ways depending on the severity of the accident or cause. While whiplash is most common in car accident injuries, sports injuries, falls, or any other incident that causes a sudden jerking in the upper body can be considered catalysts for Whiplash Associated Disorder. Even slight impacts can lead to complications, so you should be cautious after any event where you could have experienced whiplash.

It is also important to note that whiplash itself often occurs well before any signs of Whiplash Associated Disorder appear. It can be hours, days, or even weeks before the physical impacts become apparent. You should seek treatment immediately following an accident, even if you are not seeing symptoms yet.

Whiplash Associated Disorder is classified on a scale of severity and related conditions. Your whiplash chiropractor will use both discussions and simple physical evaluations to determine where your injury is on the scale, and may even call for diagnostic scans. The grading scale is as follows:

  • Grade 0: No complaints of neck pain or physical signs of damage.
  • Grade 1: Neck pain, stiffness, or tenderness with no physical signs.
  • Grade 2: Neck complaints and musculoskeletal indications.
  • Grade 3: Neck complaints and neurological signs.
  • Grade 4: Neck complaints with apparent fracture or dislocation.

The signs associated can range in severity and impact on your daily life. Even in low-grade cases, you may experience headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, or sleep disturbances. Severe instances may lead to joint disturbances, disc injury, or spinal problems on a larger scale.

Prognosis for Whiplash Associated Disorder

Most cases of Whiplash Associated Disorder resolve quickly with rest and the proper treatment. Cases can resolve within days in some situations, but most are usually resolved within a 6-week time frame.

However, serious injuries can cause symptoms of whiplash associated disorder that last for months. Some people even develop chronic pain or other issues as a result of the injury. When symptoms are present for more than six months, it is classified as a chronic case of Whiplash Associated Disorder and may result in more invasive treatment being pursued.

Treating Whiplash Associated Disorder

Whiplash Associated Disorder is often mild enough to be treated with simple remedies like rest, hot and cold therapy, and gentle stretching. However, a whiplash chiropractor should always be consulted to help rule out more severe injuries and provide recommendations on safe options. Physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments are also commonly used to aid healing.

Physical therapy offers a series of exercises designed to increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion following an injury. These steps are important both for recovery from the original injury and as a way of preventing future issues from occurring. Often, these areas have improved after physical therapy to a pre-injury level. These exercises will be guided by a physical therapist but may include home routines as well.

Whiplash chiropractors will also work closely with you and your physical therapist to perform regular adjustments to your spine. The tissues that are damaged during whiplash are closely connected to your spine, and misalignments in the spine may make it more difficult to heal from injuries. Ensuring that the spine has not been impacting by the same event and does not worsen over time is an important element of a full recovery.

At AICA Marietta, our whiplash chiropractors work closely with physical therapists and pain management specialists to develop appropriate treatment plans for your grade and type of injury. Additionally, we offer onsite diagnostic imaging and a range of specialists for cases that may require more intervention. If you have recently been in a car accident or are exhibiting signs of Whiplash Associated Disorder, contact AICA Marietta today for your first evaluation.