by Nicole Berardoni M.D, Tory McJunkin M.D, and Paul Lynch M.D
Motor vehicle injury (MVI) is a huge concern throughout the United States’ healthcare system. People are brought into the emergency room everyday with injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. In the United States, motor vehicle injury among children burden healthcare resources with an estimated $2 billion annually. Globally, approximately 1.2 million people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year and as many as 50 million are injured. Unless there is further intervention to prevent these road injuries, studies indicate that these injuries will increase 65% over the next 20 years (WHO 2007).
Of all the injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents, chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) represents the most common medical and psycho-social problem. Typically, whiplash presents with mild neck stiffness and soreness. Patients can also have an associated post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2005, physicians studied if the acute stress reaction following a whiplash injury predicted long-term consequences.
Their results demonstrate that both physical and psychological factors play a role in recovery or non-recovery from whiplash injury. This may assist in the development of more relevant treatment methods for acute whiplash (Sterling 2005).
When traveling at a high speed, your body suddenly stops during a car collision. This produces a significant amount of stress on one’s body. Most often, neck muscle and soft tissue straining occurs. In other cases, other injuries may occur including bone fractures, ligament tears, head injuries, internal bleeding, abrasions, and spinal cord injury.
Treatments for Motor Vehicle Injuries
Following a motor vehicle collision, 15% to 40% of patients who have acute neck pain will eventually develop chronic neck pain (Schofferman 2007). Therefore, it is important to treat the symptoms of whiplash to decrease the chance of developing chronic sequelae. There are many treatments that may be effective for whiplash. NSAIDs (Advil-type medications) reduce the inflammation that forms acutely. Chiropractic manipulations and acupuncture may also help relieve the discomfort.
When the neck pain persists, medial branch blocks of the facet joint can be done to determine whether the facet joints are the cause of pain. When significant relief occurs on two occasions, radiofrequency ablation typically provides significant relief for an estimated eight to 12 months and can be repeated as needed (Scofferman 2007). Botox (botulinum toxin A) injections have recently been studied and show effectiveness in reducing pain and increasing range of motion in patients suffering from whiplash (Juan 2004). After a motor vehicle accident, you should go to a hospital to rule out more serious complications that may ensue following a collision. If these complications have been ruled out and you are still feeling discomfort, then contact Arizona Pain Specialists today to see if our physicians can help you decrease your discomfort with one of the many innovative treatment options we offer.
- Physical and psychological factors predict outcome following whiplash injury. Sterling M, Jull G, Vicenzino B, Kenardy J, Darnell R. Pain. 2005 Mar;114(1-2):141-8. Epub Jan 2005
- Factors associated with hospital length of stay and hospital charges of motor vehicle crash related hospitalizations among children in the United States. Gardner R, Smith GA, Chany AM, Fernandez SA, McKenzie LB. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Sep;161(9):889 World Health Organization. WHO.com April 2007
- Chronic whiplash and whiplash-associated disorders: an evidence-based approach. Schofferman J, Bogduk N, Slosar P. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2007 Oct;15(10):596
- Use of botulinum toxin-A for musculoskeletal pain in patients with whiplash associated disorders [ISRCTN68653575]. Juan FJ. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2004 Feb