What is an acceleration/deceleration injury?
This injury is commonly referred to, or associated with whiplash. Whiplash involves the transfer of acceleration and deceleration forces; usually this is caused by car accidents which cause the body to be thrust forward and then backwards in quick succession. During these movements, the tissue surrounding the spine becomes stretched and may be damaged.
Symptoms of acceleration/deceleration injuries
Common symptoms include pain/stiffness in the neck, back, lower back, shoulder and or hips, a restricted range of movement, dizziness, headache and or blurred vision. It is also very common for these symptoms to have a delayed onset, patients report feeling fine for hours or days after the trauma with symptoms starting at a later time.
Treatment usually involves a combination of manual therapy, exercises and medication; this will usually involve taking pain relief, anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxant medicines initially. Imaging (x-ray, MRI or CT) is common following the initial trauma. Once the injury has occurred, experts recommend the injured area be moved gently as early as possible to prevent it from seizing up (the neck and back should not be moved in the event of a serious accident or if a spinal cord injury is suspected). Chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage and/or physical therapy should be introduced as soon as possible, these therapies will increase the range of movement and strengthen the tissue surrounding the spine allowing injuries to heal more quickly and to their maximum potential.
Acceleration/deceleration injuries can take longer times to heal. This is due to the number of structures that are injured, the forces that are involved with motor vehicles and how much the spine is used on a daily basis. The average length of time needed to recover from an acceleration/deceleration trauma is 6-12 weeks but is common for a full recovery to take longer.