Hyper-extended neck injuries, more commonly referred to as whiplash, is a complex problem for patients. A complexity that leaves many frustrated with their health care and some fighting to prove that there is something really wrong with them. While whiplash can occur from falls and sports impacts, the most common cause occurs in rear-end vehicular accidents. In this type of accident a passenger in the front vehicle will suffer an injury when their neck is violently thrown first backwards from the accident’s initial impact, then forward – hyper-extending it.
Whiplash – real or not? In the past, medical studies and other legal research started to question whether whiplash injuries were real. The problem for the victim is that sometimes the symptoms of whiplash, headaches, neck pain, dizziness, to name a few, would be slow to develop. So at the time of the accident, the victim may have reported that they felt great, but then a week later, suddenly, they would start developing pain in their neck, shoulders and back. They could also develop numbness down their arms, have cognitive problems, lightheadedness and jaw pain. Some would even get blurred vision and ringing in their ears. All this occurred days, weeks, sometimes months later. Doctors doubt the patients What happens in a whiplash injury? Your neck curves in an S-shape. In a whiplash injury, such as a rear-end car accident, your head snaps back, then snaps forward. This snapping back and forth can be severe – even in low speed impact. That delicate S-shape, Treatment for whiplash injury where the neck’s anatomical structures are properly lined up is compromised and severe injuries can occur. Injuries can be to the vertebrae or the soft tissue that supports them. The neck ligaments can be torn or stretched, the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones can similarly be damaged as well as muscles. While damage to bones are readily seen in X-ray, damage to the ligaments, tendons, muscles and may not get picked up, even by the most sophisticated imaging devices, MRI and CT scan. This is where the doctors begin to doubt the patients – they look at “film,” the scans, and cannot clearly distinguish an injury. So they have a patient who is clearly in misery, but lack the “objective finding,” they hoped for with scan results. Now it comes down to, 1. Is there something really wrong? or 2. Is it in the patient’s head? In our clinic we see chronic joint, back, and neck problems all the time. One of the first things we do when we see a patient is confirm or question the results an MRI may show. Numerous medical studies have questioned the accuracy of MRI for soft tissue injury and in our office we use a physical examination, palpating (touching) the patient’s problematic areas to isolate the source of their pain. Once we find a “hot spot” or “trigger point,” not only do we know their pain is real, but that we can help them with a set of simple dextrose injections into the neck region. The treatment we use is Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy works by introducing a small amount of dextrose through injection into the areas of the neck. The injections target the damaged soft tissue – specifically the tendons and ligaments. By strengthening and rebuilding this tissue, the neck vertebrae is stabilized easing complications caused by disc herniation, or the rubbing of nerves that cause the numbness and tingling in the limbs. As early as the 1960’s physicians realized that Prolotherapy was an extraordinary weapon for whiplash injuries. In the medical journal Headache Dr. Daniel Kayfetz, writing in 1963, noted that 79% of his whiplash patients were in completely relieved of their headaches and Dr. George Hackett in his 1960 study noted 90% percent of patients he treated with neck and/or headache pain noted relief of symptoms. Dr. Hackett also noted the whiplash symptoms – neck pain and referral headaches were from ligament damage. Is Prolotherapy right for you? Finding the right doctor is the first step. If you’re interested in seeing if you’re a candidate for Prolotherapy, visit Dr. Marc Darrow, your Los Angeles pain management doctor who gets results and who also assist those injured in personal injury accidents, such as spinal cord injuries.