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Q: Why is it that my car has little to no damage, yet I am in pain and miserable?

A: Despite popular belief, there is no correlation between the amount of vehicle damage versus the amount of human injury in a motor vehicle collision. Many, many variables come into play in a crash, and ultimately devastating human injury, even death, can occur in collisions with little or no outward signs of damage to the vehicle. Conversely there are times when massive damage can occur to the car, yet the human walks away with minimal to no injury. Think about an Indy car crash where the vehicle is practically destroyed, yet the driver's cage remains intact in the frame of the car, and the driver unbuckles their safety belts and walks away from a horrific scene. Although it is human nature to believe that a car with little to no damage means the human(s) inside cannot possible be injured, this simply is not true. Your best bet is to get a chiropractic spinal check up as soon as possible because early care offers the best opportunity for optimal healing and recovery.

Q: How come some people are more hurt than others when they are in the same car and crash?

A:   First of all, because of human variability. Thankfully we are all different (height, weight, age, body type, state of health etc.) making each person's risk of injury different. Also, each person is seated in a different place in the vehicle. It is not possible to accurately predict who may be injured, or how much they may be injured in a given crash. That is why we evaluate and examine each patient individually.

Q: Are all people that are in car crashes injured?

A: No. However, 3 million Americans report whiplash injuries from motor vehicle collisions each year. Of these, roughly half will suffer long term pain or symptoms and 10% will become disabled each year. Since early evaluation and treatment offers the greatest chance for favorable recover, it is wise to get a chiropractic spinal exam following a car crash.

Q: Can children get whiplash injuries?

A: Yes, and unfortunately children's injuries are often overlooked when they are not life-threatening. A human spine is not fully developed until the mid-twenties in age. Therefore, children's spines can sustain injury before they are fully matured. Left unchecked, these hidden injuries can affect the child later in life, or for the rest of their life. Although 97% of parents believe they are using child restraint systems correctly, astonishingly, 89% are not. Additionally, only 10% of kids who should be in a booster seat are in such a device. These factors add to the risk of injury.

Q: What if my symptoms did not begin immediately?

A: Frequently, pain along with other signs and symptoms of injury are delayed following a car crash. The soft tissues are most commonly stretched and/or micro-torn in whiplash injury. This stretching/micro-tearing leads to a soft tissue inflammatory reaction that takes time to build. This is much like tissue in the body reacting to infection. When an infection develops the symptoms evolve over time rather than occurring instantaneously. Often patients mask their initial symptoms with pain medications and are unaware of the level of their pain and stiffness until these medications wear off.

Q: I have fast reflexes, how come my muscles did not react and protect me from getting injured?

A: Whiplash is a phenomenon of various parts of your body being rapidly accelerated and decelerated, often not at the exact same time. On average, it takes about 200 milliseconds for your muscles to react. However, the majority of the whiplash injury event has occurred between 50-80 milliseconds, long before your muscles can react. Additionally, the forces involved are usually greater than what your muscles can overcome. That is why people that are aware of the impending impact are often still injured. However, awareness can often help reduce the severity of injury. There are also many other risk factors for injury that may be involved, such as: Were you looking straight ahead at impact or was your head turned? Did you have any pre-existing spinal degeneration? Had you ever been previously injured in a car crash, even if it was fully healed prior to the present crash? Was your headrest in the proper position? I have only mentioned a few of the many risk factors here. As you can see, there are many variables, unique to each patient and each collision, that ultimately determines the outcome.

Q: My neck and/or back still hurts and has never felt the same since the car crash I was in several years ago. Why?

A: While whiplash may seem like a simple sprain injury to the neck or back, whiplash can very often cause permanent injury to the spinal joints, discs, ligaments and nerves. These injuries can also lead to anxiety and depression. A recent study following whiplash patients indicated that less than 29% were pain-free 7.5 years later after their initial injury. Another study demonstrated that one third of patients 17 years after their initial injury were still disabled, compared to 6% of people who did not have whiplash injury. Fortunately, chiropractic is proven effective in the care of chronic whiplash pain. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that 93% of chronic whiplash patients improved following chiropractic care.

Q: I am in pain and have been told that my x-rays and tests are normal. How can this be?

A: It is quite common for standard x-rays and test to be reported as "normal" in whiplash injury. This does not imply that the patient is dishonest or faking injury. It simply means that when injury is present; the tests are not sensitive enough to detect it. Often, when evaluating whiplash injury special exams are required. These tests may be high tech: such as flexion/ extension MRI, SPECT imaging, SEMG, video-fluoroscopy, computerized range of motion, etc. There are a variety of low tech exams that are useful as well, such as pain/ pressure testing, and balance/position sense testing. It is also useful to note that pain is produced at a molecular/cellular level. We do not have tests or imaging exams that can detect at this level. In other words we do not have tests that can "see" pain. The tests we use look for anatomical and/or functional changes differing from what we perceive as the normal standard.


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