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The Myths and the Reality About Whiplash Injury

Updated on March 25, 2010
Whiplash happens when your head moves unexpectedly and violently back and forth. (c)
Whiplash happens when your head moves unexpectedly and violently back and forth. (c)
Whiplash is often a consequence of rear-end car collisions. (c)
Whiplash is often a consequence of rear-end car collisions. (c)

Unfortunately, the accelerated rhythm of our busy modern lifestyle has many negative consequences. The extremely intense traffic is one of them. No matter how hard we try to drive carefully, there are so many vehicles on the road that sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a collision, especially when it is caused by another person’s careless driving.

As we all know, the outcomes of car accidents are different: from insignificant bumper scratches and minor injuries to severe damages and lost lives.

Whiplash is a neck injury that happens very often during vehicle collisions, especially when your car gets hit from behind. It can also happen during high-impact sports, dancing and other dynamic activities, when the body and the neck can suffer a violent sudden movement.

Every year, there are millions of people suffering from whiplash injury. Most lack the necessary knowledge that will help them get a better treatment, a faster recovery and a fair compensation for their pain and their financial loses.

It's hard to detect a whiplash injury on regular x-rays. (c)
It's hard to detect a whiplash injury on regular x-rays. (c)
A cervical collar is not always recommended for treating whiplash. (c)
A cervical collar is not always recommended for treating whiplash. (c)

There are many myths about whiplash injury that can affect both your health and your chances of getting a compensation. I will try to uncover the truth behind them.

1st Myth: No visible traumas - no whiplash injury.

Many people think that if their MRI scans or x-rays don’t show any signs of trauma, it means they don’t have a whiplash injury. This may be true in case of a broken arm, for example. However, whiplash is different. Being mostly an injury of the soft tissues, it’s rarely possible to detect it with the help of regular tests. At the same time, an incorrect diagnosis can cause a worsening of the patient’s condition, leading to more deterioration of his neck muscles, tendons and ligaments. In some cases, the complications can also affect the spinal joints and disks.

2nd Myth: No immediate symptoms - no real whiplash.

Some people believe that if you don’t feel pain, stiffness and discomfort immediately after the accident, than you don’t have a serious injury. This is not always true. The symptoms of whiplash can manifest after a few days or weeks from the incident, even in severe forms.

3rd Myth: No visible vehicle damages - no whiplash compensation.

This myth is one of the most popular, affecting mostly your financial situation - you spend a lot on treatment, thinking at the same time that you don’t deserve any compensation since your car is unscratched. When dealing with this matter, let’s not forget that our car is one thing, and our neck is something totally different. Modern cars have strong bumpers that can resist even in severe collisions, while the soft tissues of your neck can be easily damaged by an unexpected movement during a light impact.

4th Myth: No proof - no injury.

After many car crashes, there are special ‘accident reconstructions’ conducted. During such procedures, using numbers and specific tests, the specialists may ‘prove’ that a certain collision could not result in whiplash injury. However, no matter how exact they are, mathematical calculations cannot take into account everything and squeeze all the details of real life into a formula. Even if reconstructionists say that there is no way you could suffer a whiplash injury, your trauma could still be severe.

5th Myth: Wearing a cervical collar is mandatory in cases of whiplash.

The first thing you should do in case you suffer a car accident is go see a doctor. Immediately! He/she is the only one who can objectively assess your injuries and prescribe a corresponding treatment. Sometimes the treatment requires wearing a cervical collar for a certain time. However, the most recent medical researches have proved that the total immobilization of the neck muscles is actually slowing down the healing process. More and more specialists prescribe special neck exercises for patients with whiplash instead of wearing collars. Chiropractic treatment is also very effective, accelerating the full recovery by working directly on the affected muscles and joints.

If you suffered a whiplash injury, don’t believe the first rumors you hear! Make a thorough research and study the real facts that will help you get a fast recovery and a decent compensation.


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    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 

      8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      You're very welcome! It's so great that more natural perspectives on healing are available, and that more people are becoming informed and participating in making decisions about their health.

    • miragerainy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you for the great comment, Katrina! I agree with you and with the chiropractors who recommend gentle massage and special exercises so the neck will heal naturally.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 

      8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Great idea to raise the awareness of whiplash injury! I think it's widely misunderstood. From my experience in yoga therapy (disclaimer: I'm not a doctor - this is not advice and is purely informational), I agree that the neck brace isn't generally the best way to go, chiefly because it flattens the natural curve of the neck, and then doesn't support the muscles, plus it isolates an area that really needs attention.

      For any injury, (again, from my experience) the best way to heal is to return the body to its optimal alignment and calm the trauma. For whiplash that means restoring the natural curve of the neck and 'hugging' in the muscles and fascia around the area of the injury. So you could use your hands and sweetly but firmly 'hug' (press) your hands around the back of the neck while lifting the chin and then influencing the neck up slightly. First curve, then length. Which is the opposite from what neck braces do, which is just lengthening the neck without creating the natural curve.

      That's my two cents, and a different perspective. Again, great hub to help people understand this common issue in more detail.


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