With current legislation mandating the use of seat belts, an increased number of neck and back injuries have been reported when seat belts are used. While these injuries may be less significant than in unrestricted accidents, health care providers must address these potentially lifelong problems and not dismiss them as merely “Whiplash”. Many cases of tension headache and Cervical Migraine may be the result of a neck injury that may have been forgotten or simply dismissed as trivial by the patient-according to a study published in Spine. In the article, Dr. MacNab reviewed 266 cases and found at least 45% continued to have symptoms 2 years following the settlement of court actions. Most people that are involved in “minor” rear-end collisions do not realize the potential for injury to the spine. If pain does not immediately ensue, the incident may be forgotten.
The brain and spinal cord comprise the Central Nervous System which controls and coordinates ALL functions in the body. A trauma to the neck/back will send abnormal signals to the brain causing the Central Nervous System control to become aberrant. This aberration will cause the pain, or problem condition, to manifest itself either immediately, or down the road (depending on the extent of the injury).
The greater the trauma, the greater the injury (i.e., surface brain hemorrhages, Cerebral Concussion and Subdural Hematoma). The only answer is that the injured party must be evaluated by a skilled physician who may ascertain, through the use of X-Ray, Orthopedic and Neurological Examination and spinal/soft tissue palpation, the extent of the injury.
There are many treatment modalities currently used for this type of injury. These range from cervical collars to a multitude of medications to bed rest. Ultimately, the treatment of choice is Chiropractic, often in combination with physical therapy.