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Can You Prevent Whiplash Injury?

Whiplash injury is the most common car or truck crash injury. Every year, car injury doctors diagnose 2 to 3 million Americans with whiplash injury from a car wreck.

Whiplash injury occurs when sudden force or movement strains your neck and spine, affecting bones, muscles, ligaments and nerves. When you’re in a moving car, if the driver suddenly accelerates, inertia causes your back to press into your seat, and if the driver suddenly slams on the brakes, inertia causes your body to keep moving forward. In the same way, your brain is a passenger in your skull, and sudden, sharp movement can cause your brain to smack against your skull. Your neck acts as a shock absorber for your head, extending and twisting to minimize sudden movement on your brain.

Anyone can get whiplash injury, but women and older adults—who are more typically prone to muscle and bone injuries of any kind—are more likely to have serious whiplash associated disorders or lasting injuries.  Women have a different spine structure than men—which affects the distance between each vertebra. They also have less muscle tissue to absorb and reduce the effects of sudden impact forces. Because women tend to be shorter, the headrests and seatback that help keep men’s heads from moving backward too far in a car wreck may not work the same way for women.

So, is there a way to prevent whiplash injury from occurring, especially if you’re a woman?

Though there’s no way to entirely prevent whiplash injury, you can do a number of things to reduce the risk of developing whiplash.

  1. Use your driver’s manual to learn the correct positioning of your seat and adjust it accordingly. Make sure your headrest is positioned so you are able to use it. If you are too short to reach it properly, purchase an orthopedic seat cushion to adjust your height and posture.
  2. Wear your seat belt correctly. It must go across your shoulder and be snug against your body. If worn correctly, it can help stop your forward motion before your forward momentum leads to a whiplash injury.
  3. Drive safely. You want to try to avoid situations where the driver behind you has to stop suddenly, as he or she may not be able to do so and avoid hitting you. Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely. If you suddenly have to slam on the brakes, the driver behind you may not be able to stop in time.
  4. Get into position. If you know you are about to be hit from behind and have time, put your head against the headrest and face straight ahead. This can help to keep your head, neck and body from moving at different speeds, which can lead to whiplash injury.

If you have neck pain after a car accident and suspect you may have a whiplash injury, come to the nearest Accident & Injury Chiropractic clinic where our focus is car or truck crash injury treatment. We have state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and our car crash chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing and treating whiplash injury.  

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