The Phoenix

Auto Accident Injury: Physical Therapy the best treatment option neck, shoulder, and low back pain

- By Dr. John R. Mishock

Each year, 2 million Americans suffer from whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) secondary to motor vehicle accidents. Studies using highspeed cameras and sophistica­ted crash dummies have determined that rearimpact car accidents cause the lower cervical vertebrae (lower bones in the neck) to be forced into a position of hyperexten­sion (movement of the vertebrae backward). In contrast, the upper cervical vertebrae (upper bones in the neck) move rapidly into hyperflexi­on (movement of the vertebrae forward).

This traumatic movement leads to an abnormal S-shape curve of the cervical spine during the accident. This abnormal motion causes damage to the soft tissues that hold the cervical vertebrae together (ligaments, facet capsules, muscles). The lower back and shoulders can also be injured as the seat belt restraint causes rotational stress to the torso and spine. These insults during an auto accident can lead to symptoms of WAD.

The most common symptoms related to WAD include:

• Neck pain and stiffness

• Headaches

• Shoulder pain

• Dizziness/visual changes

• Fatigue

• Jaw pain

• Arm pain/weakness

• Low back pain

• Numbness and tingling

Recent evidence has shown that physical therapy may be the best choice to decrease pain, improve motion, and lower costs secondary to whiplash-associated disorders. In the Journal of Rheumatolo­gy, a large-scale meta-analysis was performed of the existing literature on mechanical neck pain secondary to motor vehicle accidents. There was substantia­l evidence supporting stretching/strengthen­ing exercises combined with mobilizati­on/manipulati­on. Standard medical care (pain medication, surgery, and injections) had limited evidence or no long-term benefit. Furthermor­e, the treatments with physical therapy were less expensive and demonstrat­ed less long-term disability versus standard medical care.

An article in the Emergency Medical Journal compared two groups. The first group received mobilizati­on (hands-on muscle and joint work) and exercise therapy. The second group received medication and a cervical collar. The mobilizati­on and exercise group had significan­tly less neck/shoulder pain, improved headaches, and lower prevalence of all other symptoms when compared to the group receiving medication and a cervical collar.

Another research article in the journal Spine demonstrat­ed decreased medical cost and fewer days lost at work in patients who received physical therapy versus standard medical treatments (advanced tests, drugs, collar, injection, and surgery).

The scientific evidence clearly shows that using physical therapy in combinatio­n with standard medical care would be the best choice to decrease pain, improve function, and prevent chronicity in individual­s who have injuries associated with auto accidents.

If pain or limited function is keeping you from doing the activities you enjoy, we can help reduce pain and increase function. Call for a FREE Phone Consultati­on or to schedule your visit at (610)327-2600.

Locations: Gilbertsvi­lle, Skippack, Phoenixvil­le, Steiner Medical, Boyertown, Pottstown, and Limerick (inside the Spring Valley YMCA).

Appointmen­ts available 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, ALL locations, most days! Saturday appointmen­ts available.

Visit our website to REQUEST AN APPOINTMEN­T, read informativ­e articles, meet our physical therapy staff, and learn about our treatment philosophy.

Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate-level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropract­ic in the state of Pennsylvan­ia. He has authored two books; “Fundamenta­l Training Principles: Essential Knowledge for Building the Elite Athlete” and “The Rubber Arm; Using Science to Increase Pitch Control, Improve Velocity, and Prevent Elbow and Shoulder Injury” both can be bought on Amazon.

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Dr. John R. Mishock

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