Whiplash and Early Arthritis

Osteo arthritis is the most common joint disorder in the US. (1) To many people, the idea of arthritis is an “old age” problem; unfortunately, that is not the case. Evidence show that when the normal motion of a joint is affected, it can accelerate a break down process. It is common for whiplash neck injury to start this degenerative process in the small joints of the neck and discs.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that degenerative changes or arthritis are common after a whiplash type injury. One such study revealed on x-ray that 7 years after injury, 39% of the patients had disc degeneration at one or more levels.(2) In yet another study, x-rays 7 years after injury revealed 55% of the patients developed degenerative changes in their neck. (2)

Whiplash & Ligament Injury

A whiplash type injury typically causes damage to the ligaments that hold spinal bones together. Think of a ligament as a piece of leather; if it is stretched, it does not spring back to its normal length or strength. This weakened and stretch ligament then affects the normal motion or mobility of the spinal joints, putting them under abnormal stress when you move your neck.

This abnormal stress causes and irritation of the bones that make up the joint. When bone is under stress, it begins to produce more bone, this process is called Wolff’s Law. Over time, the increased bone formation will cause the joints to become rough and bone spurs will develop over the edges of the injured joints.

What You Can Do

The best way to minimize the degenerative changes is to restore and maintain as much as possible the normal joint motion. This is where chiropractic care comes in. By gentle adjustments or manipulations, chiropractic care seeks to restore the normal joint range of motion.

The chiropractic adjustment will impact the injured joint in many ways. First, it will begin to restore the normal motion, which in turn will decrease the irritation and pain in the joint. Second, maintain the normal motion of the joint will allow the injured ligament to repair itself in a more flexible way. Third, maintain the normal motion helps to decrease the stress on the bone and subsequently reduce the production of excess bone or degenerative changes.

If you have been involved in an auto accident or suffer from arthritis, give our office a call at (314) 731-4383 or CLICK TO CALL AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Dr. Schmaltz has years of helping injured people get their life back

    1. 1. Zhang, Y. & Jordan, J.M (2010). Epidemiology of osteoarthritis. Clinics in geriatric medicine, 26(3), 355-369
2. The Cervical Spine Research Society Lippincott, 1989, Mason Hohl, MD, Professor of Surgery/Orthopedics, UCLA Medical Center