Whiplash and Little Problems
I find myself educating patients daily about the function and posture of the neck. I really enjoy letting my patients know about something so important to their health. I just wish more people knew this information from an early age. If they did, they would pay more attention when their neck stiffens or when they bump their head. These little things don't seem to be of much consequence when they happen but little things do add up over time.
Even a simple car accident may not seem like much if no blood was involved or the vehicle only had a small dent in the bumper. But these little problems do end up having consequences, and the x-ray usually shows these effects. When I review a patient's x-rays, there are sometimes changes that had to occur years earlier. It is often the beginning stages of arthritis with disk degeneration. If you recently injured your neck in a car accident, this pre-existing degeneration may have made your less able to withstand the forces of the collision. But it also indicates you had a little problem years earlier. Perhaps the body gave you a signal at the time, a stiff neck or even minor pain but the pain gradually went away and you thought the problem did as well.
Unfortunately, the body may not heal completely on its own and over time if the posture of the neck is ignored or the mobility isn't preserved, the small joints of the spine can wear out, sort of like tires wearing unevenly on a car that is out of alignment.
It surprises me sometimes how well we take care of our cars, changing the oil regularly, having it aligned, but when it comes to the spine, even a collision with a wall is thought to be of little consequence.Working on your posture at an early age and keeping your mobility even and smooth are best taken care of early on, not after arthritis has set in.