3 million Americans are diagnosed with whiplash every year.
Approximately 50% of whiplash cases lead to chronic pain. Some people deal with whiplash pain for the rest of their lives.
Despite the prevalence of whiplash, there are still many myths about whiplash. Whiplash doesn’t have to come from a car accident, for example, and you don’t have to apply significant force to develop whiplash.
Today, we’re debunking some of the most common myths about whiplash.
Myth #1: You’ll Notice Whiplash Symptoms Within 24 Hours of Injury
Most whiplash symptoms occur soon after a car accident or other traumatic event. However, some people don’t notice symptoms of whiplash for days or even weeks.
As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “you may feel signs and symptoms immediately after the injury or they may not show up for several days”.
Myth #2: Whiplash Injuries Are More Common Among Elderly Drivers
You might assume that older adults are more likely to experience whiplash than younger adults.
In fact, statistics show that whiplash is most common in people between ages 30 and 50.
However, it is true that whiplash injuries become more severe with age. As people get older, they become less flexible. The discs and ligaments in your neck aren’t as elastic, which can increase the severity of injury when your neck moves whips back and forth.
Myth #3: You Must Be in a Car Accident to Experience Whiplash
Most whiplash injuries are caused by front or rear-end car accidents. However, you don’t need to be in a vehicle to experience whiplash.
Whiplash can occur at any time. Some people experience whiplash after a fall, for example. Others get whiplash from high impact sports – like snowboarding, skiing, or football.
Myth #4: Men and Women Are Equally At Risk for Whiplash
You might assume that men and women have an equal risk of experiencing whiplash. In fact, there’s a significant gender difference in whiplash cases.
One study from 1999 found that females had 3 times the risk of developing whiplash compared to men. That study analyzed rear-end collision data from Folksam, a Swedish insurance company. After controlling for male and female positions within the vehicle (i.e. driver and passenger positions), researchers found that women were still 3 times as likely as men to suffer from whiplash.
Females not only had a higher risk of whiplash injury than men, but they also had increased disability rates compared to males.
A study from Volvo’s accident database reinforced these results, finding that females were 2x to 3x more likely to suffer from whiplash in an accident.
Myth #5: Passengers and Drivers Are Equally as Likely to Get Whiplash
The same 1999 study linked above found that drivers were more at risk for whiplash than passengers.
Specifically, the driver position had twice the relative risk of whiplash as the front passenger position – at least for whiplash cases involving rear-end impacts.
Researchers analyzed Volvo’s data to find similar results: drivers were more likely to get whiplash than passengers, although this difference was less significant with crashes involving male drivers and passengers.
Myth #6: You Have to Be Driving Faster than 10mph to Get Whiplash
When you think of whiplash, you might think of high-speed collisions. However, it doesn’t take a lot of force for whiplash to occur.
In fact, many whiplash injuries from vehicle accidents occur at speeds between 5mph and 10mph.
A minor parking lot collision may not seem serious – but it can often lead to whiplash for all parties involved.
Myth #7: Rest is Always the Best Way to Treat Whiplash Injuries
You might assume that rest is the best way to treat a whiplash injury. Rest can lead to temporary pain relief.
However, rest can actually be bad for certain whiplash injuries. Prolonged rest – say, for more than 2-3 days – can stiffen the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back. This makes your muscles weak and could lengthen whiplash pain.
In many whiplash cases, the best way to recover is to return to normal activity as soon as your doctor approves it.
Myth #8: All Whiplash Injuries Are Mostly the Same
Whiplash injuries vary widely in severity. Some whiplash injuries go away on their own after a few days. Other injuries last weeks, months, or even years. Some patients deal with whiplash pain for life.
Physicians grade whiplash injuries on a scale from 0 to 3:
- Grade 0: No physical signs of injury or patient complaints.
- Grade 1: No physical signs of injury, but neck pain is present.
- Grade 2: There are physical signs of a musculoskeletal injury and the patient is experiencing neck pain.
- Grade 3: There are neurological signs of whiplash and the patient is experiencing neck pain.
Myth #9: Whiplash Injuries Will Go Away On Their Own
Unfortunately, whiplash injuries may not heal themselves.
In fact, researchers have found that up to 50% of people who experience a whiplash injury will never fully recover. Up to 30% of whiplash victims will remain “moderately to severely disabled by their condition”.
Whiplash Chiropractic Care in Lakewood, Colorado
If you are experiencing symptoms of whiplash, then consider visiting a chiropractor.
Renew Chiropractic offers free consultations for new patients.
Call 720-493-5885 and discover how Lakewood’s leading chiropractor can help you recover from whiplash.