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How the Brain Changes in Whiplash Injuries

How the Brain Changes in Whiplash Injuries

Imagine what it would be like to have a fall or accident in your teens, only to suffer from those whiplash symptoms decades later.  That’s what happened to my patient, Bob. 

Bob is a 57-year-old-man who came to me in my Norwalk clinic because he’d been suffering from Bell’s palsy—muscle weakness that causes drooping on one side of the face—for about seven years.  His symptoms were severe, including:

·         Drooling

·         Disordered movements in the facial movements that affected his expressions

·         Headaches

·         Tearing

·         Loss of taste

·         Hypersensitivity to sounds

After reviewing all his X-rays, I’d noticed a severe neck injury that must’ve been many years old. Bob told me about a major accident he’d had decades earlier. He was 17, out for a joy ride with a friend, wearing no seatbelt, and racing towards his youthful adrenaline between the lines on the road.  Sadly, his night was cut short when he was involved in a severe accident that killed his friend and nearly stole his life too.  He wasn’t expected to make it through. 

Whiplash after an accident can lead to serious long-term repercussions if not treated from the beginning.  But the good news is that it’s reversible.  Within just a few visits, Bob saw significant relief in his symptoms.  His whiplash treatment regimen was a critical part of his recovery.  He now lives a full and active life without the pain and discomfort of a long-ago tragedy. 

The Brain at the Onset of Whiplash Injuries

In severe accidents where you lose consciousness for any period, the brain develops lesions in the prefrontal cortex.  This is the area of the brain responsible for executive functions like focus, being able to predict the consequences of your actions, impulse control, and management of emotional reactions.  Lesions can also appear in deeper structures of the brain if the injury is bad enough. 

The Long-Term Effects and Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries

Just because a whiplash injury doesn’t knock you unconscious, doesn’t mean it can’t become problematic.  Symptoms of chronic whiplash injuries include:

·         Severe chronic shoulder and neck pain

·         Ringing in the ears

·         Blurry vision

·         Severe headaches

·         Sleep difficulties

·         Memory problems

·         Difficulty with focus and concentration

In 2016, a study revealed changes in the pain and posture processing part of the brain many years after the accident.  They were looking for a way to help people suffering from chronic whiplash associative disorder—a problem with motor, sensorimotor, and sensory functions.  Whiplash can happen at low speeds, so people don’t always see their doctor right away, often leaving the injury untreated for years.  When they do seek attention, it’s difficult to impossible to see anything on tests.  In the study, researchers identified where the pain is occurring.  There is restricted blood flow from the neck to areas in the brain involved with pain perception and sensory processing from inside the body.     

Treating whiplash injuries quickly is critical to avoid long-term damage to nerves, muscles, tendons, and the brain.  Proper whiplash treatment can reverse symptoms; however, the severity and type of injury will determine the path of your treatment plan.  In all cases, it’s best not to wait.  Contact Slovin Chiropractic Center today for a consultation. 


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Sources:

Medical Life Sciences:  Changes in the pain and posture processing parts of the brain could cause whiplash symptoms.

BC Medical Journal:  Purports Of Brain Damage Following Presumed Whiplash Injury

Science Direct: Whiplash symptoms are caused by actual changes in the brain

Stress Causing Pain? 3 Things Your Doctor CAN’T Do


Stress makes everything—especially pain—worse. Unfortunately, medical science and a doctor’s skill can only take you so far. We can show you the water, but it’s up to you to drink.

How Stress Impacts Health

Stress increases brain activity, making your nervous system more sensitive, and tightens the brain’s blood vessels. It’s often a subtle culprit to chronic pain, but it’s manageable when you’re aware of your stressors.

Chronic stress—physical, mental, or emotional—forces the body into survival mode. Your adrenal glands atop each kidney constantly release stress hormones, which inhibit the gland’s proper functioning. That affects other glands and organs as well.

Anything that runs at full speed for long periods is bound to overheat and eventually break down; your body’s stress response is no different. Even the most minor problems—like a traffic jam or a bad day at work—can affect your physical and mental health. Consistently high levels of big and small stressors lead to:

  • An overworked endocrine system that can’t keep up with high-stress demands
  • Too much effort required of the heart
  • Cravings for unhealthy and damaging foods
  • Higher risk of prediabetes, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
  • Muscle tension, headaches, and back pain
  • Menstrual irregularities (or your period stops completely)
  • An overwhelmed immune system
  • Increased risk for chronic stomach pains and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Memory loss and cognitive decline

Stress is common in this chaos-driven world. It’s essential to learn ways of coping with stressors, primarily if it’s affecting your health and quality of life. Pain lowers your tolerance and kicks you in the teeth if left unaddressed.

I know it’s tough to change behaviors and find new coping mechanisms, but you don’t have to do it alone. Your doctor can help you find practices that work with your schedule, preferences, goals, and personal situation; however, there are a few things doctors can’t do for you when it comes to treating stress-induced pain.

We Can’t Do the Hardest Work

The hardest part of relieving stress-caused pain is what you do at home and in the privacy of your thoughts. That doesn’t mean your doctor can’t help you discover new coping mechanisms and support to reach your goals. It means we can’t change the way you think about and deal with your troubled teen, wandering spouse, or terrible boss. As a chiropractor, I can help relieve some of the tension in your spine, giving your internal body a fighting chance to regulate stress’s chemical and hormonal response. I’m able to provide you with a wealth of information about coping techniques, and I have dozens of resources at your disposal. The rest is up to you

We Can’t Make Promises About a Cure

Doctors aren’t in the habit of making promises, especially in medical treatments. I can’t and won’t promise spinal manipulation will relieve your neck pain. It probably will if you follow treatment protocols, but that’s not a promise I can keep. As your chiropractor, I can only promise to provide you with all the necessary tools to improve your health and quality of life.

We Can’t Make it Stop Without Time

As much as we wish it were different, doctors know there’s no magic touch or cure-all pill. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for stress-induced pain because, like everything else about you, each case is unique. We’re doctors, but we’re also whole humans bound by Time. Good health doesn’t happen overnight. With patience, perseverance, and commitment, a good doctor can help you through the long-haul journey.

If you’d like to learn more about how we treat chronic pain at Slovin Chiropractic Center, let’s have a chat! Our doctors stand ready to help you take the next step to a healthier life.

Request an Appointment

Resources:

Healthline: The Effects of Stress on Your Body

Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials: 7 Strange Things Stress Can Do to Your Body

EXCLI Journal: Experimental and Clinical Sciences: The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review

How to Avoid Headache and Whiplash Injury During a Car Accident

Hi, I am Dr. Erik Slovin, from DrSlovin.com.

I am a chiropractic physician specializing in non-drug treatment for injuries that come from auto accidents and slip and falls.

Today, I wanted to talk about how to protect yourself from damaging your neck in a car accident.

Neck pain and headaches are often seen together. It’s common to suffer headache and migraine symptoms after a crash, so today I thought I’d teach you a few tips and tricks on what to do and how to set yourself up in a car so you are less likely to get hurt.

For years, insurance adjusters have claimed that the damage sustained by the car directly correlates with the damage sustained by its occupants (YOU). This is So VERY wrong.

Not too long ago, I heard a story of a young couple that just got married.

On the way to the airport for their honeymoon, they got into an accident. The husband was killed immediately. The wife didn’t have a scratch on her.

They were in the same car. How’s that possible?

Well, it goes to show you, the damage to the car is absolutely not equivalent to the damage endured by the person.

One thing has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the other.

Studies show you can suffer whiplash-related injuries such as headaches, neck pain, numbness and tingling into the hands and arm at speeds as slow as 2.5 mph. So basically, you can walk yourself into a wall when not paying attention and suffer a case of whiplash.

You don’t actually have to be in a car.

During a slip and fall, or a car crash, muscles, tendons and ligaments get pulled and stretched beyond their normal limits causing rips and tears ultimately causing you significant pain. Ligaments, for example, heal with scar tissue. Without proper management, they become weaker, less elastic, and highly prone to pain and re-injury.

Women have thinner, more flexible neck muscles then men, and are therefore at even greater risk of long term debilitating pain following an accident. Recent studies show that 80% of women who suffer neck muscle injuries continue to experience chronic pain even 15 years later.

So here are 3 ways to help you prevent whiplash and other serious side effects:

First, always wear your seat belt.

That goes without question. I don’t care how tall you are, how fat you are, if you’re’ pregnant or if your father has a comb over.

You need to wear your seatbelt.

Second.

Set up your seat, so that when you sit, the headrest sits one to two inches above the top of your head.

This will help prevent your head from ramping or extending up over the top of the headrest if you’re hit from behind.

Third.

Many of us have this thought that if we remain relaxed during a collision and just kind of go with the flow, that we won’t suffer a whiplash injury.

This couldn’t be more incorrect.

If you stiffen up, tuck your chin down a bit, keep your hands on the steering wheel without really gripping the wheel.

Your muscles can help protect you and you can greatly reduce your injuries.

Keeping your seatbelt fastened, setting up your head restraint properly and making sure your stiff upon collision are three things you can do to help yourself next time you think you may be in a crash.

I hope you have found these tips in this video helpful.

If you have, tag a friend, share the video. There’s lots of info in here that could quite possibly help someone avoid severe long-term whiplash-related symptoms.

Have you been able to avoid a whiplash injury from a recent accident? How? What did you do?

Let me know in the box below. I’m always happy to hear from you.

If you have any questions… please email me at :drslovin@drslovin.com and maybe I can answer your question in my next video.