The term “Whiplash” is a generic layperson’s term that all too often is associated with Automobile Collision generated injuries, but auto collisions are certainly not the only way to suffer from a whiplash type injury. Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) are typically referred to in the medico-legal literature as “Acceleration/ Deceleration” injuries, or "Hyperflexion/Hyperextension" injuries, or "Sprain/Strain" injuries. And, as many of you have come to understand by actually experiencing the traumatic forces of WAD the hard way, they can be incredibly violent even in seemingly minor collisions with surprisingly little vehicular damage. With over three million new cases of Acceleration / Deceleration type WAD type injuries occurring each year, and over 50% of those progressing to at least some degree of unresolved or “chronic” symptoms, it is clear that Whiplash Associated Disorders are taking on a collectively massive financial, physical, and emotional toll on our country. If you would like, read that previous sentence again because it is not an exaggeration. If you are one of the people who suffers with Chronic Pain caused by a “whiplash” type of injury, I am preaching to the choir because you already know what I am talking about!

When people think of “Whiplash” they tend to think of motor vehicle accidents (MVA’s) and yes, MVA's are the single most common cause of Whiplash Associated Disorders that range from neck pain, upper back pain, mid and lower back pain, headaches, shoulder pain and direct trauma to body parts, fuzzy thinking, non-impact brain injuries, radiating pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness of the hands, dizziness, etc. Whiplash can be caused by many vectors of force acting upon the body simultaneously. And while there are certain symptoms that we see over and over at the Conklin Clinic, whiplash can seemingly cause a host of different symptoms that can change or metamorphose over time. Some of the most common causes of WAD can include sports injuries, work injuries, spousal abuse, bar fights, horse accidents (falls), and almost anything else that has the capacity to “snap” your head suddenly and violently.

Although the most common problems associated with Whiplash Associated Disorders are related to neck injuries such as neck pain, radiating pain patterns, numbness of the hands and headaches. Scientific research shows that Acceleration/ Deceleration whiplash injuries routinely cause all sorts of other injuries as well. For example, we commonly see people suffering from lower back pain that was caused by an MVA. One of the most shocking conclusions concerning Whiplash Associated Disorders, was written by a pair of well known whiplash medical researchers, Drs. Gargan & Bannister. Gargan & Bannister as they are known in scientific circles when referring to this study published their research findings that was conducted in the 1990′s. They found that whiplash-like injuries frequently result in a whole host of, "bizarre and seemingly unrelated symptoms" and yes, there are malingerers and individuals with drug pursuing profiles, fact is, far too many people are lumped into these categories simply because their problems do not show up on traditional medical tests such as MRI or CT diagnostics.

These scientific diagnostic studies and many more often times do not demonstrate clear objective data that supports diagnoses of a Whiplash Associated Disorder making it very difficult to document that patient's pain patterns. However, these very diagnostics are to this day the chief method that the medical community is using to determine the severity to which the patient is injured. Here is the problem, if the vast majority of soft-tissue injuries to the fascia, ligaments, tendons, muscles, capsules, facets and nerves do not image well with advanced imaging techniques, and imaging is the medical community’s chief method of diagnosis; unless you have a herniated disc, a patient is often handled by the medical profession and E.R. as if nothing is really wrong with them treating the patient like a scam artist who "trying to extort a huge settlement from an insurance company" or in want of getting highly addictive drugs. Technological advances can do wonderful things in the diagnostic findings and treatment of many pathologies. However, fascia which arguably is the single most pain-sensitive tissue in our entire bodies gets the big hit during automobile collisions and have a tendency to develop chronic pain patterns over time due to the normal process of the laying down of fibrous adhesions to strengthen the injured soft tissues.


I'll keep this short. When soft tissues are badly injured an inflammatory response occurs. There are two types of inflammatory reactions. The first type is septic; this is where there is a open wound from an exogenous source and bacteria is introduced into the tissues causing inflammation. The second is aseptic; which is caused by closed soft tissue trauma wound with no break in the skin also causing an inflammatory response. Here's the rub! Inflammation regardless of whether it is septic or aseptic heals through a mechanism of cells laying down fibrous adhesions also known as scar tissue. Now keep in mind that you can't injure soft tissues without experiencing injured nerves. During the healing process these nerves can re-sprout and they will re-innervate the healing tissues.

It's rather analogous to a gardener.

What does the gardener do when her shrubs are over grown and bare in many places?

She trims the tops and the sides of the shrubs a little more than usual and in time along the branches, little buds will sprout and they will branch out and fill in the bare areas. It is believed that these injured nerves have the ability to sprout as much as a thousand times that of normal healthy nerves and they grow into or infiltrate the healing areas. This in scientific circles is termed, "hyper-reinnervation" which leads to neurologic "supersensitivity" (marked pain increases via innocuous pressure to the once injured areas) leading to "adverse patterns in neurospinal learning," meaning that the pain generator is in the central nervous system and not in the periphery. What does that mean? Well, it would be akin to the pain taking on a life of its own and sending signals seemingly for the "heck of it." If you have been involved in an automobile collision seek professional help. Fixing an injury when it is fresh is much easier than after that injury becomes chronic. If you experience chronic pain patterns from a whiplash type of injury that you suffered years ago also seek professional help. We very well might be able to help! We're straight shooters and we are serious about what we do.

Give us a call.