Whiplash injury research is both extensive and in-depth. Because whiplash is such a common legal battleground, there have been literally thousands of scientific and medical studies on every single aspect of whiplash.
For example, we’ve known for a couple of decades now that the primary sources of damage during a whiplash event is the overextension (‘inertial injury’) to the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, fascia, and muscles) of the surrounding area and joints in your vertebrae.
By injecting the muscles and soft tissues of the neck with very localized anesthesia – thus numbing the neck one small section of tissue at a time – researchers studying whiplash have been able to determine precisely which muscles and tissues the pain is originating in. By using a powerful x-ray machine called a fluoroscope to precisely position anesthetic needles in the exact tissues they want to anesthetize, they can ensure that they don’t accidentally anesthetize the wrong tissues. When they make an injection that stops the patient’s pain, they’ve found the tissue that was responsible for the pain. By slowly working their way through the facet joints, the disc joints, the spinal muscles, the spinal nerves, the connective tissues, and other parts of the neck, they can establish in each case where the problem is.
The results have been very consistent across hundreds of patients: chronic whiplash pain is by far most commonly sourced in the muscles, trigger points, and ligaments of the facet joints at the base of the neck, and secondly in the disc joints of the same vertebrae.
Whiplash-related headaches, however, come from “landmine knots” better known as trigger points in your neck and shoulder muscles. These trigger points refer pain directly into your head, behind your eyes, and base of skull causing you that aching tension throughout the day. Whiplash-related headaches also come from ligaments of the facet joints in the upper part of the neck.
Whiplash Injury Healing Time
Injured muscles and soft tissues can take up to 12 months to heal completely even when given the most appropriate treatment. The average healing time for a well-treated whiplash injury (back to maximum movement with no pain) is seven months and one week – however, a meaningful amount of whiplash patients can take as long as two years to reach that point.
However, Neuromuscular Massage Therapy is shown to greatly speed up recovery and pain relief, breaking the pain spasm cycle caused by the accident.