Orange County, CA Car Accident Injury Neck Exercises Info
Dr Barry L Marks, Chiropractor, Orange, CA
Before we discuss specific neck exercises, we first must understand…
At the moment of impact in a typical rear-end collision, your head remains momentarily still while your body is forced forward. This instantaneous separation of the movement of your torso and head causes the neck shape to be deformed injuring muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, joint surfaces, nerves and even your brain.
This all occurs before you are even conscious of the collision. By the time you realized you were hit, your spine as already been damaged!
The degree of spine damage depends on many factors including your age, gender, body type, vehicle type, seat and head restraint type, your position at impact, previous accidents, and more. Interestingly, vehicle damage has been repeatedly shown NOT to be a good predictor of bodily injury.
One of the most reliable factors of injury are your symptoms and how soon after the collision they show up and your x-ray findings. Much research has gone into determining the long-term outlook of crash victims and how to predict whether you will recover from your injuries or not.
The presence of an abnormal neck curve on x-rays after a collision is a key factor in your prognosis. Medical researchers have found that if your neck is damaged it will change it’s shape which is readily measurable on x-ray examination. How far from normal your neck curve has deviated determines how badly you are injured and how difficult it may be to return your neck to normal.
Consider the pictures below…on the left is a normal curve that resembles a backwards “C.” On the right is an “S” shaped curve due to whiplash.
A normal “C” shaped neck curve measures between 30 and 40 degrees. There is some debate about whether or not the higher number, 40 is a steadfast norm. I believe, if you are between those numbers that is a good place to be.
Let’s compare a normal neck, Figure 1 and an abnormal neck in Figure 2:
You may have noticed that the patient is facing to the left instead of to the right as in the pictures previously, but you should also note that Fig. 1 has a nice deep curve, while Fig. 2 is very straight. This is a classic example of what is called a “hypolordosis” or decreased curve of the neck.
What you need to understand is that after your initial treatment that is designed to reduce pain by quelling inflammation and spasm, it is highly probable that your neck will still be misshaped like this. Unfortunately, doctors who do not know about or do not understand the importance of fully rehabilitating a neck after an accident, treat many crash victims. So once your pain is reduced, these doctors will unceremoniously release you from care without taking a second set of x-rays to measure your curve. You will be released with less pain, but your neck is still damaged inside and will eventually become painful again. Worse, is that later you will suffer deterioration of your neck joints and have early osteoarthritis. Medical research indicates a 600% increase in risk for early arthritis in victims with persistently reduced neck curve after a crash. As you can see, it is very important for your long-term health to correct your neck as much as possible.
In the next post, we will cover the specific neck exercises you MUST do if you have suffered an auto accident.
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