When you have whiplash, whether it be from a high velocity impact in a motor vehicle, or another injury, the head and neck snap forward and back at a high velocity, leading to general inflammation, which later binds tissues and structures in the neck in chronically painful ways.
We are very aware of the musculature in our neck, as these muscles are the source of our pain when they are forced to bind and adapt, creating chronic tension. We don’t think about the arteries, nerves, and veins of the neck, not to mention our organs – including thyroid, trachea, and esophagus. With the case of nausea, sometimes it is the vagus nerve in particular which has become entwined in tissue due to being caught in the crossfire of a whiplash injury.
The vagus nerve is the only cranial nerve to leave the cranium. It’s path traverses down the right side and left side of the neck, along the side of the trachea, into the chest – toward the back of the lung, through the diaphragm into and throughout the abdominal cavity – hence it’s nickname –‘the wandering nerve’. The vagus nerve helps to regulate the heart beat, control some muscle movement, keep a person breathing, and to transmit a variety of chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive tract in working order, contracting the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food, and sending back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it.
“A very simple analogy for a nerve would be a garden hose, with the water running through being representative of the information transmitted between the parts of the body it controls and the brain. Simply put, when a garden hose is kinked, tethered, or bound, the water cannot run through, or can but only sparingly,” explains Vancouver RMT Monica Cleland. In this way, the information running along the vagus nerve can become distorted, and the signals weaken, which can cause all sorts of symptoms. A very common place for the vagus nerve to become restricted is where it exits the cranium and traverses along the side of the trachea in the neck, the common injury site in whiplash. http://www.broadwaymassageandtherapy.com/
Having the areas of whiplash injury manually addressed by a therapist such as a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) who is educated in releasing the connective tissue (fascia) can be extremely valuable. Releasing tissue surrounding the structures of the neck, as well as in the path and relationships of the vagus nerve in a whiplash injury can reduce and remove the symptoms of nausea as well as chronic neck, head, and TMJ pain. Be sure to tell your Vancouver Massage Therapist that you are experiencing nausea in addition to neck pain if you have experienced a whiplash injury, as this can be an important clue.
Many of the Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) at Broadway Wellness, a multi-disciplinary clinic near Broadway and Oak in Vancouver, BC, Canada are treating clients suffering from a variety of whiplash symptoms. These therapists use a combination of techniques including fascial release, cranial sacral therapy (fascial work involving the central nervous system and surrounding structures), and visceral manipulation (fascial work involving organs – such as trachea and esophagus as mentioned above). For more information on these techniques, please visit our Vancouver massage therapy page, http://www.broadwaymassageandtherapy.com/