Category Archives: Car Accident Injury

Auto Accident Whiplash Injuries and Your Spine

Auto Accident Whiplash Injuries and Your Spine

Noted car accident doctor and chiropractor Dr Barry Marks explains Auto Accident Whiplash Injuries

auto accident whiplash injuries dr marks

Auto Accident Whiplash Injuries Are Serious Because They Damage Your Spine

Typical Auto Accident Injuries:

  • Whiplash muscle and ligament injuries
    Muscles and ligaments are over stretched and damaged. While muscles heal, ligaments never recover making it a serious injury. Your spine is less stable and arthritis risk is 600% more with weakened ligaments, .
  • Disc injuries
    The intervertebral discs between each spinal bone that act as spacers and shock absorbs of the spine, can become torn after a collision. It may take some time for the damage to surface, but eventually the discs will leak out fluids and begin to herniate outward towards your nerves and spinal cord causing nerve problems.
  • Nerve injuries
    The nerves can be compressed or stretched in a motor vehicle collision causing weakness, numbness and tingling sensations. Injury to your brain is common; concussions occur in approximately half of all accidents.

What to Do After an Accident in Orange County California

Certainly, call Dr Barry Marks, Chiropractor and leading expert in car accident injuries and treatment in Orange County (714) 938-0575. Dr Marks will help guide you through the process of filing a claim, getting proper treatment, advising you on insurance matters and more.


Ligament Injuries After a Car Accident

Ligament Injuries After a Car Accident


Auto Accidents Cause Neck Ligament Injuries

Ligament injuries of the neck can occur even in collisions with little vehicle damage. Speeds of less than 5 mph can cause permanent ligament damage.

Ligaments do not show up on x-rays, but evidence of ligament injury may show up if the proper x-rays are taken. Ligaments hold bones together. In the spine, a series of ligaments run up the front and back of the spinal bones to keep them aligned front to back. Called the "longitudinal ligaments," these are ligaments that are often damaged in motor vehicle collisions, particularly rear-impact crashes. Normal longitudinal ligaments keep the vertebral bones in the proper alignment and prevent them from sliding and separating too much when you bend your spine.

Radiographic Evidence of Ligament Damage

Taking x-rays while the neck is being flexed forward and then while extended backwards will show if there is excessive movement. Measurements are taken and compared to known normal values. If the abnormal motion is enough it may be considered an Alteration Of Motion Segment Integrity (AOMSI) which is a very serious permanent injury that equates to a 25-28% total body impairment. In other words as serious as losing a limb.

Neck Ligament Damage After a Car Accident Often Goes Undocumented

Most doctors, medical or chiropractic, do not know how to do this. They often do not order the proper x-rays and a medical radiologist will not make these measurements or compare it to impairment values. This is where a doctor specializing in whiplash injuries comes in. A true whiplash expert knows this and many other methods of objectively proving your injury, providing the proper treatment and reporting to insurance companies and lawyers.

Car Accident? Call One of Orange County's Leading Car Accident Injury Experts Dr Barry Marks, Chiropractor (714) 938-0575

Dr Barry Marks, Chiropractor
Car Accident Whiplash & Brain Injury Specialist
1745 W Orangewood Ave #114
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 938-0575

How to Know if You Have Whiplash

How to Know if You Have Whiplash

how to know if you have whiplash

Been in an accident and not sure if you have whiplash? Here are tips from a car accident whiplash expert on how to find out.

Car Accident Whiplash Injuries

“Whiplash” is the general term used for a neck injury caused by a car accident. It was first used to denote the “whipping” motion of the head and neck during a collision. As science advanced, the mechanism of injury became more clear and precise and doctors moved away from using the term. But because it is a word ingrained within our culture, doctors are trending towards using the term again.

A car accident can injure any part of your body. Injuries are caused by energy that is transmitted from one vehicle into another. As cars collide, energy is dissipated by crunching of plastic and metal, sound, heat and even light energy. After all this energy is bled off, some may remain. This residual energy is what causes an injury. The more residual energy in a collision, the more likely you are to be injured and more severe it may be. Most auto accident injuries are suffered in low to moderate speed collisions in which the amount of vehicle damage is fairly low so less energy is dissipated by the vehicles and more energy is experienced by the occupants.

Symptoms of a Car Accident Whiplash Injury

Symptoms may come on immediately or may take some time to emerge, these are the most common symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fuzzy headed feeling
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability, anger
  • Neck stiffness
  • Neck soreness
  • Pain on movement
  • Clunking or crackling sounds on moving neck
  • Upper and middle back pain
  • Pain stabbing into shoulder blade on neck movement
  • Low back pain
  • Buttocks pain
  • Shoulder, arm, wrist or hand pain
  • Numbness and tingling into arms and hands
  • Hip, knee, leg or foot pains
  • Numbness and tingling into the legs and feet

How to Know if You Have Whiplash

Symptoms may be subtle and slowly ramp up over a period of days or even weeks making some people question whether they are hurt from the accident or some other cause. The best way is to take an objective, rational inventory of the situation and how you feel. Many people want to minimize the situation because nobody really wants to think of themselves as injured. Untreated injuries account for prolonged suffering later, so it's best to be honest with yourself and try to determine if you have symptoms related to the accident. In general, symptoms are not a good indicator of severity of injury. You may have moderate injuries, but only experience mild pain and you may have sever pain, but only mild injuries. The key is that any symptoms following a collision indicates injury of some degree.

You may want to ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I feel overall compared to just prior to the accident? Are my eating, sleeping, energy levels any different?
  • How does my head, neck, back, arms and legs (any area that feels some soreness) feel compared to just prior to the accident?
  • Are my thinking, reading, speaking, balance, coordination and emotions different than prior to the accident?
  • Are there any activities like washing hair, bathing, dressing, household chores, child care, recreation or work, that cause discomfort, make me change the way I do them or that I avoid since the accident?
  • If you already had pain before your accident, did it change after the accident? Does it hurt more intensely or more often, has the nature changed from dull ache to sharp, does your pain now interfere with activities that you could do before? In other words, if you felt one way prior to the accident and after you feel different, that is a sign that you may have suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing injury from your car accident.

Consult with a Car Accident Doctor Specializing in Whiplash

Once you've taken an inventory of how you feel, the next step is to seek an evaluation with a doctor who specializes in these types of injuries. General doctors lack the training and experience to identify many car accident injuries. Less obvious signs will be missed and even more serious injuries such as concussions and damaged ligaments are often overlooked by family medical physicians and general chiropractors. And when it comes to proper treatment, these doctors often prescribe treatments that are lacking.

How a Specialist Will Know if You Have Whiplash

A doctor specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of car accident injuries will be able to objectively and systematically locate any injuries and determine if they are caused by the accident.

The doctor will review your complaints, the specifics of the accident, your past history and have you complete specific standard medical questionnaires for each symptoms or area of injury. With this information the doctor will be able to assess whether it is possible or likely for an injury to occur.

You will then undergo a physical examination involving your spinal nerve system, your brain, your bones, joints and muscles and a specific chiropractic analysis of spinal alignment and function.

In most cases imaging such as x-rays will be requested that will be able to tell the doctor what degree of injury has been suffered and if there are any pre-existing problems such as arthritis or spinal anomalies that may complicate your injury. Under some circumstances you may be referred out for a CT scan or MRI as well.

Once all of this information is gathered, your car accident specialist doctor will then compile it to document whether an injury has occurred, if it is due to the accident in question, the severity of the injuries, what treatments are available and appropriate for your specific condition and what the long term outlook for recovery is.

After your injuries are located and documented, the next step is a plan for treatment for whiplash from car accident.

Recently Suffered a Car Accident? You Need to Be Evaluated by a True Whiplash Expert. Call (714) 938-0575 for an Appointment with Dr Barry Marks, Car Accident Chiropractor in Orange County Since 1986.

What is a Sprain?

What is a sprain?

neck sprain torn ligaments

Practically everyone at one time or another has suffered a “sprain,” but while it is a common problem, most people do not understand exactly what it is.

The casual use of the word “sprain' adds to the confusion. Additionally, because the word is often incorrectly used, the severity and long-term consequences of these injuries are often minimized. If you've been unlucky enough to be injured in a car accident, you may hear the opposing insurance company say things like “it's just a sprain” or “just a soft tissue injury” it's not a serious injury. You may have also heard someone say these injuries heal by themselves rather quickly with no consequences.

To make a sprain injury more understandable, let's take a look at what a sprain actually is from a medical standpoint.

If you were to search on the internet the term “sprain” you will likely see this definition:

To sprain is to wrench or twist the ligaments of (an ankle, wrist, or other joint) violently so as to cause pain and swelling but not dislocation.


A sprain is the result of a wrench or twist of the ligaments of a joint.

This definition is incomplete. It does show that a sprain has a traumatic cause, which is true and it also states that it is an injury to a ligament, also true. What it doesn't describe is the actual medical, anatomical injury and that is very important in understanding this type of "soft tissue" injury.

Compare the above definition with the definition from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.1


A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, a strong band of connective tissue that connect the end of one bone with another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body's joints. For example, ligaments in the knee connect the thighbone with the shinbone, enabling people to walk and run.

A sprained knee can be the result of a sudden twist, and a wrist sprain can occur when falling on an outstretched hand.


Sprains are classified by severity:

Grade 1 sprain (mild): Slight stretching and some damage to the fibers (fibrils) of the ligament.

Grade 2 sprain (moderate): Partial tearing of the ligament. There is abnormal looseness (laxity) in the joint when it is moved in certain ways.

Grade 3 sprain (severe): Complete tear of the ligament. This causes significant instability and makes the joint nonfunctional.

So as you can see the more precise definition is a traumatic jerking or twist of a joint that results in “overstretching” of a ligament that causes damage, tearing of the fibers of the ligament. The severity of the sprain depends on how many fibers are torn. The reason this is important is because, especially in a medical-legal scenario, automobile insurance adjusters often claim a “sprain” in the spine is just an “injured” or “damaged” ligament and not an actual “torn” ligament. They classify this as only a "soft tissue injury."

ligament sprain gradesA sprain is a torn ligament

You now know the truth, that a sprain is in fact a “torn” ligament to some degree. A Grade 1 sprain basically heals with little treatment over a period of weeks and leads to no discernible instability. A Grade 2 takes much longer to heal, months in fact, and NEVER returns to the same strength or elasticity as before because enough fibers have been torn to permanently affect the function of the ligament. It is a serious injury. A Grade 3 sprain is a very serious injury that involves a complete tear of the ligament and the joint is rendered totally nonfunctional and requires surgical repair.

Why are sprains serious?

Remember the function of a ligament is to hold a joint together. If the ligament loses its strength and elasticity it cannot properly hold the joint together. It's similar to the elastic in your socks; once its stretched too far, your socks will never stay up. When this happens, the joint malfunctions and osteoarthritis sets in within 5 years. In the spine it is especially problematic because excessive motion of the vertebral bones in the spine can lead to damage to nerves. If the instability is severe enough, it is classified as a very high degree of permanent impairment.

How do I know what Grade of sprain I have?

If you twist an ankle, and you experience only mild pain on walking and there is only slight swelling and no bruising in the area in the next 24 hours, you have a Grade 1 sprain. Let's say in the same injury you have difficulty walking and notice more swelling that obscures part of your ankle bone and you notice bruising in the area within 24 hours, you likely have a Grade 2 sprain. A Grade 3 sprain will be very painful, enough to totally prevent walking and the ankle may seem very loose and or make popping or cracking noises. Swelling will be severe and much bruising will be seen.

What about a sprain in the spine?

Spraining ligaments in your spine requires a high amount of stress on the ligaments. Car accidents and high intensity sports injuries are the most common causes. Because the ligaments are deep, you will not see swelling or bruising. An MRI can sometimes show larger tears in a spinal ligament, but not always. Additionally, an MRI is a static test, meaning the patient is lying still and not moving so you have no idea if any function is altered. You cannot see joint laxity or instability on a static MRI.

The best method for determining ligament damage in the spine is not by “seeing” the actual damaged ligaments, but by seeing the evidence of abnormal function due to ligament tearing.2 Remember a Grade 2 or 3 ligament sprain will allow for excessive movement in the joints. This can be viewed on motion or stress x-rays. In the spine x-rays are taken from the side in the neutral position, then with head flexed forward and again with the head extended backward for the neck or bending forward and back at the waist for the lower back. The spinal bones are then analyzed as they move to see if excessive motion exists. The amount of excess movement is measured and compared to a normal value. Bones that move too far are due to ligaments being “torn” to some degree and unable to hold the bones together properly. A Grade 2 sprain will show up as unstable motion on a bending x-ray, a Grade I will not. A Grade 3 would show extreme instability, enough to require surgery immediately. Grade 1 sprains often have very mild symptoms, so these victims often do not seek medical attention. Grade 2 sprains occur in around half of rear impact car accident cases, while Grade 3's are not nearly as common.

To recap, a sprain is a traumatic injury to a ligament in which the ligament is overly stretched. The severity of the sprain depends on how much of the ligament fibers are torn. A Grade 1 sprain is an overstretching with very little tearing, a Grade 2 is a partial tearing of the ligament and causes instability of the joint. A Grade 3 is a complete tear that results in total loss of joint integrity and requires surgery. Grade 2 & 3 sprains are common and serious injuries after a car accident that can be documented on “stress x-rays.”



American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Brownstein SP, Jefferey Cronk DC, Joseph Cioffi BA. Evaluation of Spinal Ligamentous Injuries using Computerized X-ray Interpretation. Orthop Rheumatol Open Access J. 2015;1(1): 555551. DOI: 10.19080/OROAJ.2015.01.555551


Car Accident Pain

Car Accident Pain

car accident pain

Pain After a Car Accident
Orange County, CA

Pain after a car accident may be mild or more severe and may begin immediately or take days to weeks or longer to fully emerge.

What Happens to Your Body During a Car Accident?

A car crash is a very traumatic event. Even slow speed crashes that leave little vehicle damage, causes a great deal of energy to be transmitted to your body. Upon impact your body will feel as it is being jolted or thrown towards the striking vehicle. The jolt or jerk is extremely quick and sudden. When your body twists and turns so quickly due to the crash, your muscles and ligaments ability to protect your spine is exceeded and they become damaged.

What Becomes Injured After a Car Accident?

The sudden impact of a car wreck causes damage to the following tissues:

  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Discs
  • Joint cartilage
  • Brain
  • Nerves
  • Bones

Where is My Car Accident Pain Coming from?

Each tissue that becomes injured has a particular pain pattern or sensation

Muscles usually exhibit injury by a burning, cramping, spasming or grabbing pain usually on movement.

Ligaments are often the cause of sharp pains or deep burning pain within a joint at rest and on movement. If your ligament is badly damaged you may feel a popping, clicking or clunking on movement.

Disc pain comes in two varieties; if the disc itself is torn or damaged it will cause a deep ache around the midline of the spine near the site of the injury. If the disc is damaged and becomes herniated (an inner gel substance pokes out) it can irritate nerves causing numbness, tingling, sharp shooting pain, electric shock sensations, burning into an arm/hand or leg/foot. Neck discs cause arm/hand pain. Low back discs cause leg/foot pain.

Joint cartilage can be damaged when joints suddenly collide together due to force. The pain is commonly an ache, burn or poking sensation when the joint is compressed. If you bend your neck backwards and sideways simultaneously and you feel pain poking into the shoulder blade or upper back, then it is likely you have a damaged joint.

Brain injuries can cause wide ranging symptoms, the most common are headache, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, lack of mental clarity, anger, sadness, forgetfulness and more

Nerves can be irritated by disc herniations or your nerves can be injured by being stretched or compressed by excessive motion of the spine. Nerve pain is electric, shooting, burning, tingling or you may have areas where you feel nothing at all, numbness.

Bones can be fractured in an auto accident due to the extreme forces involved. You could have a fracture and not have extreme pain. Bone pain is mostly deep aching, burning, boring in nature.

Pain Intensity Has Nothing to Do With Injury Severity

Some people experience very little pain despite the fact that they have suffered ligament damage or a concussion. Others feel severe pain, but show very little actual tissue damage. Pain is an individual experience; no two people experience it the same way. Your pain is yours only and you should not compare yours to others, even people who may have been in the same car as you. What matters is that you explain and describe your pain clearly and completely so your doctor will be able to determine what tissues are damaged and perform the appropriate examinations and tests. It is only through a competent, specialized exam and imaging studies can the severity of your injury be found.

It doesn't matter whether your car accident pain is mild or severe after a car accident, the important thing is to seek an examination with a doctor specializing in car accident injuries.

For an evaluation by Dr Marks, one of Orange County's most experienced car accident injury specialists, call (714) 938-0575.