One of the most common types of car accidents are rear end type collisions. So common, about 3 million of them will happen each year. And a small percentage will experience neck pain for the rest of their lives due to an others carelessness and irresponsibility. Sometimes a good offense is having a good defense.

There are several ways to decrease your risk of getting neck pain, when in a rear end type accident. First off, good driving habits pay off. I highly recommend taking driving classes, especially for new drivers. Teenagers have minimal experience, and guided practice by a professional just might save their life. Besides taking classes, there are several factors that one needs to be aware of, such as:

1. Choose a safe car to drive! Not all cars are made the same, and each offer a slightly different level of protection.

* When purchasing a car, it is your responsibility to research safety ratings. Go to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and read about the ratings on different cars. Safety should always be high priority when choosing a vehicle. In particular, look at head restraint ratings. Volvo and Saab’s have very good anti-whiplash protection seats.

2. Adjust your head rest! Imagine a point in the center of your brain, that point should be at the same level to the center of the head rest. All to often, I notice drivers that have improperly positioned head rests. They are usually to low, and have never been adjusted, this is an easy change to make to help protect yourself.

3. Adjust the seat back rest angle! While sitting, your head should be resting on the head rest, or close to the head rest. The closer your head to the head rest, the safer you will be.

4. Be aware of the cars behind you! In particular, when you are stopped, be watchful of on coming cars that might not notice your stopped car. Many cases of whiplash that I treat in Denver, Colorado are from drivers waiting at a stop light. They are hit from behind by drivers that are simply not paying attention. It is known that people suffer more injuries, when they are not aware of the impending impact.

If you see a driver behind you, and know that you are going to get hit. The following will help decrease your chances for developing serious neck pain. I highly recommend you practice this with your entire family. Do drills, and use a simple command that when heard, everyone will do the following.

1. Look straight ahead! Looking to the right or left while getting rear ended, will increase your odds of developing serious neck pain.

2. Place the palm of your hands on the wheel without gripping the wheel! Others in the car should wrap their arms around their body, similar to giving yourself a hug. Serious shoulder and wrist injuries can occur with gripping the steering wheel.

3. Place your head and back against the seat back and head rest! The farther your body is away from the seat, the more your risk increases for serious back and neck pain.

4. Put your foot firmly on the brake! You want to avoid hitting the car in front of you once you have been hit. Without putting your foot on the brake, you will hit the car in front of you resulting in a double impact that your body will under go.

5. Tilt your head back! Having your head tilted slight in extension will reduce the amount of motion your neck will undergo after impact.

6. Shrug your shoulders! This decreases the tension on your neck and reduces chances of tissue in your neck from being injured.

Practice this scenario several times. Preparedness is your only offense when it comes to this type of auto accident.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident. I urge you to seek a well qualified chiropractor that has special training in car accidents / auto injuries. Thinking that your pains will just go away, would be faulty, and unwise. People heal much better and faster when they receive treatment as soon as possible.

Dr. Trent Artichoker MS, DC

Denver Chiropractic, LLC

3890 Federal Blvd Unit 1
Denver, CO 80211