Whiplash Neck Injury Never Heals!
Injuries Never Heal, They Repair With Weakened Tissue
“It’s only a strain” is a frequent comment that victims of a whiplash neck injury hear. This statement is made in an off handed manner in an attempt to downplay the severity of this type of injury. Unfortunately, this comment demonstrates a lack of true understanding of the significance of the injury.
In many car wrecks, the victim suffers damage to the tissue that supports and moves the bones of the neck. These include ligaments, muscles, tendons and the small joints in the back of the neck called facets and their ligament-like capsules. In the healthy, non-injured person, these structures are responsible for allowing normal joint motion and stability. However, when injured, these same structures do not heal, but REPAIR with weaker tissue such as fibrous scar tissue: AT BEST, you will find 70% normal tissue.
Compared to NORMAL tissue, this weakened scar tissue has less blood supply, is less flexible and has MORE imbedded nerve endings. Thus, it has a tendency to become stiff, inflexible and painful, which limits the normal joint motion causing more pain and earlier arthritic degeneration. Woo et al. (1999) state that, “Injury to these structures can cause significant joint instability, which may lead to injury of other tissues and the development of degenerative joint disease.” (p. 212-213). Individuals that suffer these types of injuries have 6x the incident of developing degenerative arthritis in the damaged joints!
When examining these type of injuries, special tests can be ordered to evaluate for ligament and tendon damage that causes an instability of the neck. The importance of this examination is to help the doctor determine how permanent the injury may be and to help create an accurate prognosis and treatment plan. The research has demonstrated that it can take up to 1 year for ligaments to REPAIR and then they are not as strong as normal ligaments. (1)
Simply stated, damaged ligaments and tendons of all joints, NEVER HEAL, they only repair with permanent and weakened scar tissue. That’s why it can lead to long-term pain and disability.
If you have been suffered a neck injury, seek competent care from a chiropractor who understands the tissue healing process. Dr. Martin Schmaltz has years of experience treating these types of injuries and has great success at helping his patients feel better. Call him today at (314) 731-4383 and schedule an appointment: ask for Dr. Martin!(1) Woo et al. (1999) also states that, “Final maturation of the injured ligament in the human is not complete for at least 1 year. Even at this time the tensile strength of the healed tissue remains inferior to normal, uninjured tissue.” (p. 314).