Table 2

Converting the serious to the benign

SymptomPatient’s onterpretationPhysician explanation after a thorough history and examination
Cracking or popping soundsJoint or bone damage“Many people who have tight muscles will hear noises when they move those muscles. It sounds horrible, but it does not mean anything is wrong with the bones or joints. It is a sound that goes away when the muscle pain is treated, and the muscles are relaxed.”
Dizziness, or loss of balanceBrain or inner ear damage“Dizziness and problems with balance come on for many reasons, none of them serious. The first is what you experience after the collision because your head moved so quickly. After that, the presence of neck pain does not permit smooth movements of your head when you are moving. The mixed signals leads you to experience disorientation and dizziness. The treatment is to get rid of the neck pain. Also, some medications prescribed for pain and sleep unfortunately have dizziness as a side effect. Dizziness is not a sign of anything serious, but a sign that you need to work on getting your neck range of motion back to normal and do the exercises (even though they hurt) that eliminate neck pain. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can stop medications that might actually be causing your dizziness now.”
Jaw Pain, jaw clicking, jaw lockingTMJ injury“When you have neck pain you can get jaw pain because the muscles of the neck often run close to the jaw, and so your jaw region hurts when these muscles hurt. Also, having pain is stressful, and some people will grind and clench their teeth, especially if their sleep is disturbed. This causes jaw pain. The pain is genuine, but the jaw joint is not injured. The treatment is to get rid of the stress of neck pain.”
HeadachesBrain damage, TMJ injury“The neck muscles attach to the skull in many places. Neck pain and its radiation that is generating headaches as well as the stress of having pain. The treatment is to deal with the neck pain.”
Chest pain“The initial chest pain is due to bruising from the seatbelt. After that, people who develop poor posture, with their shoulders forward and head forward, will continue to have chest pain. The cure for this is to correct your posture.”
Problems with memory and concentrationBrain damage“Many things cause your thinking to be affected. Having pain is one, as are some of the medications you are taking, and stress. The cure is to treat your neck pain, reduce medications causing more harm than good, and reduce stress. You do not have brain injury.”
Numbness in arms or legsNerve damage, pinched nerve“Numbness in the arms and legs is common with muscle pain, even without nerve damage. I have checked your reflexes and other parts of the nerves carefully, and they are completely normal. The treatment for this numbness is to remove your neck pain.”