Whiplash is a common injury that can occur from a car accident, a fall, a sports-related collision, and other activities. Whiplash occurs when the neck is suddenly forced forwards and backwards.
In 1995, medical professionals introduced the term “whiplash associated disorders”, or WAD. Today, we have three main categories of whiplash patients based on WAD classifications, including WAD I, II, and II. Here are the basic WAD categories we use when assessing whiplash patients at our chiropractic clinic in Lakewood, Colorado:
WAD I: The patient has complaints but there are no objective findings, which means we cannot reproduce your pain during an examination.
WAD IIa: The patient has complaints and we’re able to replicate those complaints objectively, but the patient has a normal range of movement of the neck and no neurological findings, including normal strength and sensation abilities.
WAD IIb: This is the same as WAD IIa, except that neck movements are decreased.
WAD III: Abnormal neurological findings (like weakness and/or sensations) are present.
WAD IV: The patient has fractures and dislocations. WAD IV isn’t always included on the scale of WAD symptoms, which is why we typically only use WAD I, II, and III.
The WAD system can be used to predict and improve patient outcomes following therapy.
Whiplash can be devastating because it’s difficult to protect yourself against abnormal forces in the neck at all times – especially when an impact comes from behind or from an unexpected direction. The abnormal force affects our neck faster than we can voluntarily contract our muscles, which means our body cannot effectively protect itself against damage.
Furthermore, many patients have whiplash symptoms from a vehicle collision even when their vehicle is undamaged. A minor collision can lead to severe whiplash injuries. Your car might be totally undamaged, but you could have severe whiplash symptoms. In a low-speed collision – like a fender bender in a parking lot – your car isn’t impacted hard enough to compress the metal. However, that just means the energy of the force is absorbed by your softer body.
Symptoms of whiplash vary widely. The most common symptoms we see at Renew Chiropractic in Lakewood, CO include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain and stiffness, dizziness, fatigue, jaw pain, arm pain, arm weakness, visual disturbances, ringing ear noises, and back pain.
If symptoms continue, the patient could develop chronic WAD problems, including depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, drug dependency, post-traumatic stress syndrome, sleep disturbances, and social isolation.
Whiplash diagnoses are based on a physical exam, an x-ray, an MRI, and, if nerve damage occurs (say, with WAD III), an EMG. Available whiplash treatment options at Renew Chiropractic include rest, ice, heat, exercise, pain management, and prolonged use of a collar. Dr. Jumper and our team of experienced professionals can also use techniques like manipulation, mobilization, active release technique, trigger point therapy, Chiropractic BioPhysics, the Pettibon System, 3-dimensional mirror image exercises, and patient education. We encourage patients to return to normal activity – like work – when safe to avoid spiraling into long-term disability.
If you were in an auto accident or experienced whiplash from any other event, call Renew Chiropractic in Lakewood, CO for a free consultation at 720-493-5885.