When it comes to head and neck injuries, research shows us that men and women do not respond the same way. The extent of injury, the length of recovery, and severity of symptoms is a worse outcome for females.
That fact has been backed up by study after study. The big question has always been, why?
A study just published may give us some insight. The symptoms of concussion and whiplash are the result of the misfiring of nerves. The nerves in the neck get stretched during impact, then for a period of time they do not behave properly. The recent study found that the part of the nerve that is affected the most is thinner in females, and as a result it suffers more trauma in an accident. So, painful symptoms are usually worse and recovery takes longer for women who experience this kind of injury.
Another culprit is the strength of women’s neck muscles. As I have talked about in previous blogs post concussion and post whiplash symptoms are extremely similar. Female’s neck muscles are normally not as developed or strong as male’s, so in a head injury, the neck is likely to also receive more damage. Women on average have 50%-60% less neck muscle mass, so the soft tissues and bones in the neck are less protected, and as such receive much more damage..
What does that mean for the female athlete?
It’s a good news bad news scenario. The bad news is you can’t do anything about the thickness of nerves. The good news is you can do a great deal to strengthen your neck. That doesn’t mean you have to walk around looking like Brock Lesnar, but a stronger neck doesn’t require that. Isometric exercises can develop neck strength without adding much in the way of bulky looking muscle mass.
Another way to minimize damage is making sure the your upper cervical area is properly aligned. This is one of the most overlooked areas—proper neck mechanics and structure. If the neck is properly aligned and structurally sound, it might minimize the damage done during an car accident or sports injury. Regular upper cervical chiropractic care can ensure that you are in alignment. Avoiding head trauma is the only real way to prevent concussions, but having a healthy strong neck is always a good idea and may lessen the impact and rehabilitation period.
But, if whiplash or concussion does happen to you, upper cervical chiropractic care will help you recover much more quickly as well. As an upper cervical doctor, I am an expert in neck injuries. I deal with whiplash and concussions on a daily basis. The upper neck is so susceptible to trauma that it is often injured and misaligned when you fall or trip, or through any number of things you do when you are playing sports, or if you get rear-ended in your car. When someone comes in with these injuries, my first goal is to restore movement in the top of the neck (the area often most affected) and then strengthen the area to restore stability.
Having an evaluation to find out if an upper neck misalignment is contributing to post concussion or whiplash symptoms is always a good idea. Correcting the misalignment will help speed recovery and healing time.
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.