Most people just think they do. The typical rear-end collision that forcibly whips the head back and forth is what comes to mind for most. But in our Minneapolis and St. Paul Chiropractic Clinic we keep in mind that the quick miss-step off the curb, trip on the stair, fall on the ice, and you name it, can lurch us forward or backward causing rapid forces to travel through the neck and rest of the spine before we know what hit us. The “jolt” doesn’t even need to cause that much whipping action to have created joint, muscle and nerve injury – even minutely so, that results in effects, even hidden for some time, that have real and lasting results. These incidents are some very real things to consider, or remember if you can, especially when you’re suffering with:
- Neck &/or back pains that “Came Out of The Blue”
- Headaches of many varieties
- Pain, numbness or tingling into the arms/hands falling asleep
- Jaw soreness, clenching, and popping/cracking noises
When taking patients’ histories (what’s going on with them, etc.) I hear all the time about the symptoms they have that “just started one day”. Even when an incident isn’t recalled that may have started this situation up, it often becomes obvious on examination that their problems didn’t come without a cause. It’s just that the immediate slip, fall or trip didn’t cause immediate symptoms. Because they didn’t have this checked then or weren’t under the care of a qualified practitioner, (a very good idea for everybody with a structural system, like having a dentist for dental care), the “minor” injury had now mushroomed into a bigger “breakdown” of acute symptoms, or even a chronic problem.
Headaches often fall into this category of having sprung from nowhere, when frequently a mechanical joint and soft tissue breakdown/injury from a trip, fall, etc. involving the upper neck set off nerve irritation there that many times produces headache. It’s surprising how many suffer with regular headaches, so much so, that they began to consider them, along with over-the counter-medications taken to relieve them, a normal part of life. I’ve come to think this is being considered normal especially if they compare notes with others, and are hearing the same story from them.
Again, arm, hand and finger symptoms can have their origins from the “jerk” to the neck from a supposed innocent trip or fall event. When the neck gets jarred like this, it’s often accompanied by jarring/jerking of the collar bones (clavicles) and upper ribs (which are located about where a shirt collar is). The combination of neck joint injury and the joints the ribs and collar bones make with spine and sternum (breastbone) will result in compression or irritation to nerves and blood vessels supplying the arms and hands. The result? Tingling, numbness, pain and or hands falling asleep.
When the neck and head are jerked the jaw bone (mandible) gets jerked too. The result is possible injury to the TMJ (temperomandibular) or jaw joints. If this occurs the joints don’t open or close correctly, or evenly. This can set the stage for the unconscious or conscious clenching to “even up the bite” or reduce the discomfort or pressure that’s occurring there. Snapping or popping sounds can begin too, because the joints are not working smoothly or evenly. There are so many nerve connections with the jaws that if problems are occurring there, a wide array of symptoms can began to occur in many other areas.
Whiplash comes in many shapes, forms and sizes. Unfortunately even “small” incidents can result in much larger consequences, but with the actual event only remotely tucked way back in memory. Most problems don’t actually come “out of the blue”, and really turn out to be accumulations of many of the little things that happen to us in life. Since a good defense is often a good offense, this author encourages being proactively involved with, or getting involved with a qualified practitioner, who understands all of the mechanisms and effects of whiplash injury.
By Dr. William T. Norlin Chiropractor in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota