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Avoiding whiplash, and how to treat it

Last week, I almost hit three deer on two different occasions while driving to work. I have also driven through torrential rain and witnessed a van hitting and cracking a telephone pole.

Accidents happen all the time and while modern cars can often withstand quite a bit of “injury,” the human body often can not.

Your head weighs 8 to 10 pounds; if your seat belt is fastened, the force of a collision can cause your head to whip forward and back or side to side.

Accidents are at times unavoidable, but there are things you can do to decrease the chance of sustaining a whiplash injury.

Always fasten your seat belt.

Position your headrest to “catch” your head, which means it should be right in the center of your head. Positioning it too high or too low can actually cause or worsen a whiplash injury.

Position your seat properly. You should be sitting up straight and the seat should be as close to your head as possible to lessen the distance between your head and the seat upon impact.

Be aware of your surroundings — which means no calling, texting, eating, putting on makeup, etc.  

If you do sustain a whiplash injury, get checked out by a medical professional. Some of the symptoms of whiplash: blurred vision; dizziness; jaw, shoulder or neck pain; headaches; vertigo; memory loss; irritability; sleeplessness; fatigue.

Most pain associated with whiplash is caused by tense muscles. When the neck is forced back and forth in a jarring motion, such as the type caused by a car accident, muscles and ligaments in the area are stretched beyond their normal limits.

In severe instances, the supportive muscles of the spine are torn. Muscles in the surrounding area then tighten to try and support the injured tissues. This limits range of motion and causes strain on those muscles, which are not used to bearing the extra load. This causes more pain.

Muscle pain is your chiropractor’s specialty, so  get checked out. And be careful out there.

The Chiropractic Center of Canaan was established 22 years ago and was recently acquired by Monica S. Nowak, DC, and Peter Markowicz, DC.

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