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Posted on 07-29-2013

Viscoelasticity- A Special Property of Human Tissues

Human soft tissue, whether it be muscle, skin, ligament, tendon, nerve, intervertebral disc, or bone all contain a special property known as viscoelasticity. This is a property that allows these tissues to deform depending on the type and direction of force applied. It allows for these structures to start in one place/shape, change as a result of forces applied, and then to "bounce back" to their original size and shape. It is really a remarkable characteristic.

You can liken viscoelasticity to a rubber band. You can stretch them and they bounce right back. However, if the force used to deform them is too strong or occurs to quickly, the tissues are irreparably torn and broken.

If you sit in your chair reading this, you can bend your chin to your chest, and then you can extend it backwards. Provided that you don't have any underlying problems with your neck, by the time you are done you will have your neck and its tissues in the same shape and condition as it was before you stretched it. Now imagine you are sitting at a stop light and you get rear-ended suddenly. In a matter of milliseconds your neck undergoes the same motion pattern. However, since the impulse occurrs so quickly the viscoelasticity of the neck soft tissue does not allow the tissue to return to its pre-accident shape. This results in torn soft tissues, and a trip to your local Baltimore Chiropractor for whiplash treatment.

While the motion of the neck is within anatomical limits (that is, we can bring our neck to our chest and bring it all the way back) the speed at which this motion occurs in an auto accident is so great as to not allow the viscoelastic structures of the neck to "bounce back" resulting in injury.

As a Baltimore Chiropractor that routinely treats patients with neck pain following a Baltimore auto accident, I routinely treat patients who have torn viscoelastic structures in their neck. If you, or anyone you know, as suffered from a Baltimore Auto Accident and can use the help of a Baltimore Chiropractor, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be glad to help!

Dr. Gulitz

*This information was taken from "Whiplash and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries" by Dr. Arthur Croft, page 134.

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