Anyone who has suffered whiplash knows how excruciating, and debilitating, the pain can be. Luckily, getting treatment from a qualified Arizona whiplash injury chiropractor can both alleviate the discomfort and improve your overall sense of well-being.
While most might think of whiplash as a modern, car-related injury, the condition has actually been described by the medical community since the 19th century. But in today’s world it has also long carried a stigma—namely, that it can be faked for financial gain.
The term whiplash was first used at a medical conference in 1928 by American orthopedist Harold Crowe to describe the tissue injury that resulted from a sudden acceleration-deceleration force. Crowe compared the forces to those that caused a whip to crack when flicked at a high speed.
First Wave of Whiplash Victims Came From Train Wrecks, Not Car Crashes!
The first wave of such injuries, though, did not involve automobiles. Railway spine became a common diagnosis in the 1800s—in both North America and Europe—for people who experienced severe neck pain after being in a train accident. But because there was no visible trauma to the body, many physicians—and insurance companies—of the time believed the patients were actually suffering from hysteria, hypochondria, or some other mental disorder or illness.
Long History of Fraud & Insurance Claims
Muddling the waters were actual cases of fraud, in which con artists would claim they were suffering neck pain simply to get free money. Between actual injuries and faked symptoms, the number of railway spine related lawsuits increased dramatically.
The first in-depth study of the condition was conducted by Denmark-born surgeon John Eric Erichsen, who became a Professor of Surgery at University College in London. Erichsen determined the pain caused by railway spine was due to a “disarrangement” of the spinal cord caused by speed of trains. For years after, “railway spine” was also known as Erichsen’s Disease.
But a significant number of doctors, including Sigmund Freud, firmly believed the condition was psychosomatic, prompted by a desire for financial gain. In other words, the pain felt by patients was a kind of hallucination that could be alleviated by psychiatric therapy. That theory, though, was questioned during World War I when United States Navy test pilots began complaining of the same symptoms after flying planes launched at high speeds from the deck of battle ships. Some even blacked out momentarily from the pain. Then, as cars became more ubiquitous, accident victims began to report symptoms that mirrored the pilots’ complaints as well as the tell-tale hallmarks of railway spine.
How is Whiplash Perceived Today?
Today, the medical and insurance industries recognize whiplash as a real injury that requires treatment and can take time to heal. But fraud remains, so it is crucial to consult with a licensed chiropractor to get an official whiplash injury diagnosis for insurance reasons, as well as to obtain proper treatment.