Relationship Between Whiplash and Concussions
When you are involved in an auto accident, it seems like everything just keeps piling on and on.
You have to worry about your injuries; you have to worry about your car repairs, those frustrating insurance adjusters keep calling you.
We get it.
Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the important things, like your health, when you are dealing with a hectic auto accident situation.
Trust us, one type of car accident injury you absolutely do not want to overlook is a head injury. What may initially feel like soreness or a headache could be the roots of a seriously significant injury.
So, you may wonder if you have whiplash. And if you have whiplash, does that automatically mean you have a Concussion? Moreover, what is the difference between the two?
Let's break this down.
What is Whiplash?
You may have heard of the term Whiplash before, but do you fully understand what it means?
According to WebMD, Whiplash is, "impact or blow that causes your head to jerk forward or backward can cause neck strain. The sudden force stretches and tears the muscles and tendons in your neck."
Due to the nature of auto collisions, whiplash is an incredibly common injury associated with these types of accidents.
Rear-end collisions are one of the likely car accidents to occur, so when you are hit from behind, that force will push your neck forward without any preparation and rapidly cause it to snap back. That type of strain is unhealthy on your head and neck and is sure to cause problems unless immediately treated.
Common symptoms associated with Whiplash include the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- Neck pain
- Back pain
Important note: Make sure to take care of a whiplash injury immediately. You need to receive medical care even if you feel you are fine. Whiplash symptoms are known to be delayed, so even if you think everything is okay, there is a good chance you have suffered a significant injury.
What is a Concussion?
While still a very pressing injury, concussions are different from whiplash.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that are often sustained during car accidents, slip and falls, or sports injuries. For instance, sports such as football have incredibly high rates of concussions.
It is important to note that concussions do not appear on CT or MRI scans, but that does not make them any less real or dangerous.
The way concussions typically occur during an auto accident is when you are struck by another vehicle, and your head hits any of the following:
- Steering wheel
- Other interior surfaces of the vehicle
Symptoms that are associated with concussions include the following:
- Neck pain
- Difficulty focusing
- Mood changes
- Blurred vision
- Easily confused
- Ringing in the ears
Someone who suffered a concussion may dismiss symptoms and claim they only have a "bump on the head." However, it is critical to take these injuries seriously.
An immediate way to diagnose if an individual has suffered a concussion is testing for loss of consciousness and retrograde amnesia. It is not uncommon for individuals to temporarily black out if they have suffered a severe concussion, and retrograde amnesia is the loss of memories and functioning that was stored before the concussion occurred.
Familiar questions that may be asked to test this include who the President is or when the victim's birthday is.
Whiplash and Concussions Similarities
So what are the similarities between whiplash and concussions?
Despite not being the same injuries, whiplash and concussions do share a lot of the same symptoms.
These include the following:
- Physical symptoms: soreness, headaches, dizziness, aching
- Cognitive symptoms: confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Behavioral symptoms: fatigue, irritability, and anxiety
According to Complete Concussion Management, "A study examining junior hockey players in Canada, found that regardless if the injury mechanism was a blow to the body that appeared to cause a whiplash, or a blow to the head that appeared to cause a concussion, 100% of the time, players demonstrated signs and symptoms of both injuries. This is because concussion and whiplash are due to acceleration and/or deceleration. A concussion is due to acceleration or deceleration of the brain, while whiplash is due to acceleration or deceleration of the neck."
It is understood then why it may be tricky to differentiate the injuries and why you may think that they are not mutually exclusive. However, is that truly the case?
Breaking Down Each Injury's Exclusivity
While it is tricky to differentiate between the injuries based solely on symptoms, does it mean that they must always go hand in or hand? Or are they completely mutually exclusive?
Let's think of a rectangle and a square for a minute. They are both shapes, and they both have four sides, correct? They are incredibly similar.
But what makes them different?
A square has four completely equal sides. A rectangle may or may not. Therefore, every square can be classified as a rectangle, but not every rectangle is considered a square.
So what point are we getting at here?
It can be stated that all concussion injuries will likely have some form of whiplash injury involved. However, even though a whiplash injury may present concussion-like symptoms, it does not mean that the individual has suffered a concussion.
Let's dive into that.
1. Why Concussion Injuries Pair With Whiplash Injuries
Thinking back to what concussion injuries are, we know that they are significant trauma to the head and brain. Typically this is caused by a blunt force on the skull.
Car crashes can be violent, and if an individual hits their head hard enough to cause a concussion, the neck will without a doubt have experienced enough hyperextension and hyperflexion to experience whiplash.
Even concussion injuries outside of car accidents, such as a football collision or a boxer receiving a punch to the head, when the head is met with a strong force that incites a concussion, the neck will be jolting and causing tension and stress.
Therefore, whiplash is virtually unavoidable in an accident or situation in which a concussion injury occurs.
2. Why Whiplash May Not Give You A Concussion
To retrace our steps appropriately, it is accurate in stating that there are whiplash injuries in which you may receive a concussion. As stated above, a violent car accident where you are rear-ended from behind, and your neck whips and your head smash into the steering wheel; you are very likely to suffer both injuries.
However, what about a car accident that jolts your neck, but your head does not receive any trauma?
Did You Know: Low Velocity does not prevent you from experiencing whiplash. In fact, even being rear-ended at 5-10 mph can cause whiplash.
At 5-1o mph, your head is likely not experiencing blunt trauma, but your neck will still be experiencing a quick, jerking motion.
Therefore, whiplash is our square.
In summary, all concussion injuries can expect to contain whiplash injuries, yet not every whiplash injury will cause a concussion.
Alleviate Your Aching Head and Neck Symptoms Today
Whether you are suffering from neck pain, back pain, dizziness, or other symptoms closely related to whiplash and concussions, visit Cobb Chiropractic Clinic to relieve your pain right at the source.
Chiropractic Care focuses on the spine, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system. Cobb Chiropractic's treatment doesn't just cover up pain symptoms like over-the-counter medication.
The body is a self-healing organism, and by helping your joints and spine re-align, it gives your body a push in the right direction. Our Chiropractors are experts at alleviating whiplash, specifically.
Click the link below for a Free Consultation today!
- Long-term Consequences of Untreated Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
- Chiropractic Care For Whiplash Injuries
- Why It's Important to See a Chiropractor after an Auto Accident