A whiplash herniated disc can occur as a result of severe trauma to the neck and can create a host of problematic symptoms which might become chronic pain conditions, if given the chance. Whiplash is most often associated with automobile collisions, but can actually occur from any injurious process which snaps the neck forward or back, past its typical range of motion.
This essay will detail the incidence of herniated discs related to whiplash events. We will investigate why whiplash occurs and how the process can enact disc injury in the cervical or upper thoracic spinal regions.
Whiplash occurs due to sudden acceleration, or more commonly, sudden deceleration. Inertia is the force responsible for whiplash and can produce injury to the neck muscles and the spinal structures in the neck and upper back.
The head is a very heavy weight and must be supported by the relatively thinner and weaker vertebrae and intervertebral discs in the cervical spine. When inertia is applied to the body, the head will snap forward or back, causing hyperextension or hyperflexion and typically both. This heavy weight places great stress on the cervical spine as it whips about, potentially causing a variety of possible injurious events, including a herniated disc.
Whiplash typically occurs from severe trauma, such as a car accident, slip and fall, sports injury or act of violence. Any situation which causes the head to move forward or backwards, suddenly and violently, can cause whiplash.
Whiplash is a painful condition which sometimes occurs immediately after an accident, but can also take some time to become apparent. The reasons for this time delay response vary, but are commonly linked to three possible causations:
First is the pain relieving quality of adrenaline, which is often dumped into the bodily systems during an accident. This can diminish the severity symptoms which might otherwise be debilitating when they first occur. Second is the psychological nocebo effect of the trauma, which might take some time to develop and infiltrate the subconscious mind. Finally, time delay might be caused by the secondary gain principle enacted by possible legal action relating to the accident. It is no coincidence that many people begin to experience severe pain right around the time they consult with an attorney.
The vast majority of whiplash complaints are due to muscular injury, not damage to the spinal column. Neck muscle pain can be very severe, but is generally not a major worry and should resolve without anything more than symptomatic treatment.
Extreme trauma or highly focused trauma can cause a bulging disc or even a ruptured disc in the neck or upper back. Herniated discs which occur due to whiplash are likely to be painful for a number of weeks, but should resolve within 2 months, as is typical for any disc injury condition.
Other less common effects of severe whiplash might include a change in the natural curvature of the spine, a fractured or shattered vertebra or a torn ligament or tendon. You can learn all about whiplash on our dedicated neck pain website, as well.
Many people suffer whiplash herniated disc traumas every day. These types of injuries are an inherent part of the fear we have towards spinal damage and are also a key component of legal litigation. Both of these factors make judging the actual degree of any whiplash neck injury exceedingly complicated.
Pain is often worsened or perpetuated through psychosomatic or secondary gain factors, rather than structural anatomical conditions. It is crucial, as a patient, to look past the legal and psychological implications of your injury and concentrate on your recovery.
The neck, like every other area of the body, is designed to heal, but will only do so if you give it the mental and emotional support and trust it requires. If you feel permanently damaged, you will become permanently damaged.
There is nothing more important than your health. Unfortunately, this is a lesson learned too late by many plaintiffs who endure a plethora of herniated disc treatments and eventual disc surgery just to bolster a legal case. When the case is over, you might have some money, but is it really worth it to lose your freedom and functionality for the rest of your life. Consider this point very carefully.