Craniosacral Therapy — Whiplash Injuries


Many activities can cause whiplash injuries.

We generally associate whiplash injuries with motor vehicle accidents (MVA).  However, these injuries can be caused by most sports, as well as by falling forward and breaking your fall, being pushed from behind unexpectedly, reeling backward after bumping into something, tripping over a rock, slipping on the ice, riding in the car, riding on the bus (stop and go of the bus), and so on.

Let’s not forget fun activities, such as bungee jumping, backflips into the pool, or roller coaster rides at the local fair.  Thus, whiplash injuries can be minor (mini whiplashes), as riding the bus every day, or major, as in car accidents.

Whiplash injuries can have short and long term effects.

The name “whiplash” implies a whip like action/force anywhere on your spine resulting in many injuries.  Many are minor and heal quickly.  Others are more serious and may never truly heal.

They keep haunting you in the form of unexplained headaches, digestive distress, aches and pain in the joints, muscles, and tendons, general dis-ease, irritability, and may develop into generalized muscle pain, osteoarthritis, and stiffness of the joints and tissues.

The spine’s many joints make it very vulnerable to injury.

spine, side view  

The spine consists of 24 vertebrae (7 cervical, 12 thoracic, and 5 lumbar) plus the sacrum and the coccyx, all connected to each other, like a chain, via synovial joints that allow the spine to bend forward, backward, sideways, as well as rotate to some degree.

The spine responds to trauma of any kind by bending, twisting, subluxating (misalignment of the vertebrae), or locking up.  Often, there is damage (compression, rupture, slippage) to the intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers.  Due to the interaction between the many muscles of the spine, trauma will most likely result in all three actions, not only at the point of injury but anywhere up or down the spine.

Whiplash injuries can seriously harm the brain.

Often overlooked is another form of injury, contrecoup injury, that often results from the whiplash event.  In this scenario, the whiplike action of the spine jostles the brain inside the skull, so that it hits the inside of the skull in various places, depending on the trajectory of the force.

This type of trauma is quite common in car accidents.  Certain sports, such as football, soccer (heading the ball), and boxing have a high rate of head trauma with possible contrecoup injuries.

However, this type of injury can also result from shaking an infant, resulting in various injuries to the brain, referred to as shaken baby syndrome.

Whiplash injuries and contrecoup injuries distort the membranous sac that contain the brain and the spinal cord.

The brain and spinal cord are enveloped as a single unit by a three-layered membrane called meninges.  This membranous sac lines the inside of the skull and attaches to the first two neck vertebrae, as well as the bottom of the sacrum.   Moreover, the cranial nerves and spinal nerves pierce this membrane to travel to all parts of the body.

Hence, any distortion in this membrane caused by whiplash injuries affects nerve function in the brain, the spinal cord, and potentially anywhere in the body.

Whiplash injuries can cause many symptoms besides pain.

These symptoms come in form of headaches, high or low blood pressure, rapid and/or irregular heart beat, nausea, digestive issues, balance issues, vision changes, hormonal imbalance, changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation, or alternating diarrhea/constipation, difficulty with breathing deeply, loss of stamina, aches and pain anywhere, muscle weakness, tight muscles (hypertonicity), and general discomfort, among others.

Whiplash injuries affect the mind as well, causing mood changes, difficulty with concentration or memory, and irritability, etc.

Craniosacral therapy helps the body to release the distortions in the meninges.

Because Craniosacral Therapy deals with the head, spine, spinal cord, and meninges, it is particularly well suited to support the body in its healing process in a gentle fashion.  Thus, it can be tolerated in the acute stage when many other therapies are not tolerated due to extreme pain.

Craniosacral therapy helps the body to release the tension in the meninges, as well as in the many ligaments that hold together the spine, in a gentle and non-invasive way.

Craniosacral therapy helps the body to recover from older whiplash injuries as well.

Also see Who Benefits From Craniosacral Therapy”.