Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Resolving Whiplash Injuries with Active Release – Part 5

Take Care of the Entire Kinetic Chain

Although early intervention is important, it is equally important to have the the practitioner consider all the areas that could be, or are, damaged in a hyper-extension, hyper-flexion injury. The practitioner must look for damage in more than just the neck, and review possible injuries to the patient’s jaw, shoulders, arms, wrists, upper-back, lower-back, hips, and some times even the lower extremities. Areas that have been injured often do not show symptoms for several weeks.

This is often the case with jaw problems caused by whiplash injuries. With whiplash injuries, one in three people who have been in a hyper-extension hyper-flexion accident will develop delayed TMJ problems.

Delayed temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction induced by whiplash trauma: a controlled prospective study Journal of the American Dental Association August 2007;138(8):pp. 1084-91 Salé H, Isberg A.

From a kinetic chain perspective, jaw motion and neck motion are directly linked to each other. Activation of neck and jaw muscles occurs simultaneously, which synchronized movements of the TMJ, cervical spine, and the atlanto-occipital joints. (The Atlanto-occipital joint lies between the base of the skull (occiput) and the C1 vertebra (atlas)).

Deranged jaw–neck motor control in whiplash-associated disorders European Journal of Oral Sciences, February, 2004; 112: 25–32. Per-Olof Eriksson, Hamayun Zafar, Birgitta Haggman-Henrikson

Thus any injury to neck muscles can directly affect jaw function. When Active Release practitioners consider this type of kinetic chain relationship, it becomes much easier to resolve whiplash injuries. Which leads me to an important point, you need to find an ART practitioner who is certified in biomechanics, as that could make a huge difference in resolving your condition. Practitioners with a strong biomechanics training will have a better understanding of kinetic chain relationships can more easily identify structures that are involved in the injury.

See Part 6 – Understanding Nerve Compression Issues in Whiplash Accidents, where we cover Symptoms of nerve entrapment. 
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