The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been tracking holiday traffic accidents and deaths for a very long time, and almost yearly the deadliest holiday for traffic related deaths is the Fourth of July. As a matter of fact in 2010 there were 392 deaths nation wide and 39% were alcohol related. As you are getting ready to celebrate our country's independence please be safe on the roads, and DO NOT drink and drive.
This is a very common question from my patients following any type of trauma, but especially with car accident's The whiplash and trauma that happen during a car accident create damage to the neck, and this damage can create what is called "radiating pain". If your neck was damaged following a car accident and it is creating radiating headaches, this is referred to as a "cervicogenic headache". Cervicogenic headaches are headaches where the pain originates in the neck and cervical spine. It is medically defined as pain which is present in the head but originates in cervical spine region. Neck pain and headache often occur together.
There are nearly 20 muscles in the neck which, if hurt, can refer pain to the head. The neck is one of the most vulnerable parts of human body, and if any of these 20 muscles in the neck are strained, the throbbing sensations can reach up to the head causing severe headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches are often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, throbbing pain, pain behind the eyes, photophobia (extreme sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sounds) etc. The pain can vary from mild to severe in different people. The headache can get worse by frequent and abrupt neck and head movements.
Treating Cervicogenic Headaches:
Lets talk about a few methods of treating and getting rid of cervicogenic headaches so that the problem no longer bothers us and we can get back to our normal life as quickly as possible.
1. Medication - Seeing your primary care physician can be a good idea no matter what when you are in a car accident, but especially if you are having a cervicogenic headache. Your doc can give you some medications that can dull and even take away the pain for a short time.
2. Massage - Gentle stretching exercises and neck massage can be really helpful in alleviating the pain caused by cervicogenic headaches. The muscles near the base of the skull may be strained and massage can help in soothing these muscles. Massage therapy can provide you the greatest relief in short period of time, allowing you to return to your work quickly.
3. Posture improvement - Maintaining a poor posture for a long period of time can lead to cervical joint stiffness, which in turn can lead to cervicogenic headaches. Whiplash injuries primary area of insult is to the overall structure and alignment of the neck, and this is why chiropractic is so important following these types of injuries as this is what chiropractors treat. It is important to correct your posture.
Apart from the above mentioned treatment methods, you need to take sufficient rest. There are also several exercises to strengthen neck muscles that your chiropractor will give you to create long lasting relief. Doing such exercises regularly can be beneficial in getting rid of cervicogenic headaches as well as preventing them from re-occurring in future.
If you have been in a car accident and are suffering from headaches please consult the advise of your chiropractor as they will be able to help guide you out of pain.
Car Accidents: 98,820
Car Accident Injuries: 45,209
Car Accident Fatalities: 454
These are obviously numbers for the entire state of Washington, but we must deduce that the majority of these number are centered around Seattle, and Bellevue.
Video motion x-ray is a vital piece of the diagnostic process here at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic. We use it to determine where a patients injury's have occurred and how severe they might be. This is hands down the best way to determine if there has been any tearing in the ligaments of the spine which is an extremely common finding in car accident victims.
Below is a fantastic example of a video motion x-ray.
As you might have read from some of our blog posts about what to do after being involved in a car accident, one of the first steps to take is to call 911 to let them know that there was an accident. If you have never been involved in a car accident though calling 911 for this reason may be completely foreign. Below is an excellent video that was done by a 911 operator explaining exactly how that call will probably go.
Recently I had a patient who had been involved in a car accident ask if the x-rays that we were taking of her neck were safe. I wanted to give a brief summary on what the current FDA statements on x-ray safety are and give you a couple resources where you can read more.The FDA estimates that the radiation from a chest ray is roughly equivalent to the background radiation you are exposed to in 10 days on this planet Earth.
The first consideration is that there is no difference between a chiropractic x-ray and any other type of x-ray. While some x-ray machines do vary by brand, what really matters is the part of your body being x-rayed. Different body tissues absorb radiation in different ways.
To give the public a way of monitoring their radiation exposure across many different sources, the FDA uses whats called an effective dosage scale. Each kind of x-ray has an effective dosage associated with it measured in millisieverts (mSv). Since millisieverts isn't a unit of measure most people are familiar with (like a mile or a teaspoon), having a reference value helps put the numbers in context. The FDA estimates that the average person is exposed to 3.0 millisieverts of radiation per year from naturally occurring radioactive materials and cosmic rays. That's what allows them to state that a 0.1 millisievert dosage from a chest x-ray is equivalent to about 10 days of background radiation exposure.
Compared to a chest x-ray, x-rays of the extremities (arms and legs) have a much lower effective dosage and x-rays of the lower torso have a higher effective dosage. Recall that the effective dosage comes mainly from the body part being imaged not the intensity or duration of the x-ray machine pulse. Here's a summary of effective dosages and background radiation equivalents for the various types of x-rays a chiropractor is likely to recommend:
• Extremities - 0.001 mSv – similar to 3 hours background radiation
• Chest - 0.1 mSv - similar to 10 days background radiation
• Spine - 1.5 mSv - similar to 6 months background radiation
The FDA states on its own website "Don't refuse an X-ray. The risk of not having a needed X-ray is greater than the small risk of radiation."
The FDA website and the excellent radiologyinfo.org website from the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America both point out that disease risks from radiation exposure are cumulative across time and that patients play a critical role in tracking their own exposure levels. Since you may be working with multiple health care providers in different specialty areas, you should keep a log of your exposures. Here is a link to a site where you can download a personal Patient Medical Imaging Record: http://imagewisely.org/Patients.aspx
Note that this article refers to effective exposures and recommendations for adults. If you are pregnant or looking for x-ray safety information for children, visit imagegently.org
Consumer Updates Reducing Radiation from Medical X rays. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from FDA.gov: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm095505.htm
Patient Safety X ray and CT. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from Radiologyinfo.org: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray
Radiology Risks Benefits for Patients Image Wisely Image Wisely. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 29, 2011, from ImageWisely.org: http://imagewisely.org/Patients.aspx
Car accidents are becoming an avoidable epidemic. This infographic shows the effects that these accidents can have.
"Bellevue pedestrian killed in crash with car" was the headline on December 1st of last year. Once again, a completely avoidable tragedy from a car accident. A 77 year old woman was struck and killed by a driver early on the morning of December 1st. The reason? "Icy car windows that were not defrosted and failing to look right for pedestrians contributed to the fatality". If the driver had taken a few more minutes to wait for their windows to clear, odds are they would have seen the pedestrian and this tragedy would have been avoided.
Please, take your time in the mornings, see your surrounding and where you are going before leaving your drive way. For the full story: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/bellevue-pedestrian-killed-crash-car/njJWp/
One complication that I come across quite regularly when treating my patients for their car accident injury's, is that they still have to fly for work. Flying is one of the hardest activities on our body's and if you are struggling with injury's on top of it all it can make it even worse.
Flying presents many health challenges to frequent fliers. The overall stress, the lack of a consistent healthy diet, the extended periods of sitting, the effects of cabin air and the discombobulation of jet lag, all take their toll on the frequent flier.
To deal with the ever-present stress of flying, avoid the chemical (medication, alcohol, etc.) and aim for more spiritual/physical, such as meditation or deep relaxation. Although some airports offer lounges for frequent fliers, sometimes the best option is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a meditation tape.
Medical reports have shown that long periods of sitting are significantly detrimental to health and there have been cases where long-haul flights have caused fatal instances of deep-vein thrombosis due to prolonged sitting. Frequent fliers are well advised to stretch regularly, either by getting up and walking the isles or by performing in-seat stretches. These can include neck stretching (tilting ear to shoulder and slowly rolling the head forward and down towards the other ear), back stretching (holding the armrests while twisting the chest to the left and right) and shoulder/arm stretching (placing the palm of the right hand at the nape of the neck, holding the right elbow with the left hand with the left elbow facing upwards and pulling the right elbow gently to the left, and then repeat the procedure on the other side).
A balanced regular diet is essential for health, regardless of occupation, but can be a challenge in airports due to the demands of boarding times and the temptations of fast food. Avoid processed and packaged foods, opting instead for fresh fruit that can easily be brought onboard. Whenever possible, eat at airport establishments that offer freshly cooked meals with fresh ingredients.
Hydration is very important when flying since cabin air is often exceptionally dry. Drink lots of water even though this might increase your number of trips to the toilet. Think of your trips to the toilet as a plus as it gets you out of seat and gives you another chance to stretch. Avoid in-flight alcohol and caffeinated drinks, as these will exacerbate your dehydration. Do not use the tap water from aircraft restrooms, as these are not meant to be potable.
Jet lag requires preparation and post-flight management in order to minimize its effects. For those fliers who will be returning to their point of departure in a short time, maintaining the same sleeping schedule (as much as possible) is highly recommended. For those staying in the destination’s time zone for longer than a day or so, adapting to the new time zone early by using a light box can significantly improve recovery from jet lag. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which alter sleeping patterns, can help to reduce jet lag. Switch to the new time zone immediately on arrival and avoid thinking about the time back home.
As a frequent flier, be sure to treat yourself to any airport facilities that help reduce stress and care for the body in healthy ways (massages, quiet rooms, etc.) and avoid those that provide only short-term pain relief.
On my way into work this morning I noticed, and heard the car in front of me tailgating and honking at the car in front of him. We were on a two lane stretch of residential road where the speed limit was 35 miles per hour and there are plenty of school buses and children around. As far as I could tell the car that the driver was honking ats only problem was that they were going the speed limit (which obviously was too slow for the guy in front of me). As he was throwing up his hands in frustration he whipped his car around and passed the driver in front of him. Thankfully no one was injured, but this is something I see more and more often as a cause of car accidents...impatience and being in a hurry.
Being late for work does not justify putting other people and yourself in danger. Use these simple tips to avoid a car accident.
1. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going
2. Use http://www.navbug.com/washington/bellevue_traffic.htm to check traffic conditions that may slow you down.
3. Use your smart phone to find alternate routes if you get frustrated with sitting in traffic
4. Take a deep breath!
Dr. Michael Weir is the clinic director at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic. We will also be hosting a variety of relevant guest bloggers to help you understand your injuries better.