Breaking News: DWTS’s Karina Smirnoff Injured During Rehearsal

DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff was injured today during rehearsal with partner NFL pro Jacoby Jones. The two were practicing a flip when Smirnoff landed on Jones, twisting her neck and hitting her face on the floor. People magazine is reporting that Smirnoff was taken to Cedar Sinai Medical Center for “possible whiplash and a dislocated jaw.”

At the current time, it is unknown whether the professional dancer will be able to compete tonight. It is possible that Jacoby may be given a substitute dancer partner, but it will definitely put him at a disadvantage.

This is one of several injuries already suffered during this season of Dancing with the Stars. Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill had to leave the competition during the second week due to injury to a lumbar spine cyst. And professional dancer Mark Ballas almost didn’t dance in week 7 when “while trying a lift, I compressed two discs in my lower back and could hardly move for two days.”

What is Whiplash?

whiplashWhiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck an is also called neck sprain or neck strain. When a vehicle stops suddenly in a crash or is struck from behind, a seat belt will keep a person’s body from being thrown forward. The head initially continues to move  forward, then snaps backward causing the injury. Besides automobile accidents, whiplash can occur in any situation where there can be rapid accelerations and decelerations such as amusement park rides.

Whiplash is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck and may include injury to inter-vertebral joints, discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots.

Symptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury or may be delayed for several days. In addition to neck pain, other symptoms may include:

  • neck stiffness
  • injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries)
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (paresthesias)
  • shoulder or back pain.

Jaw Dislocations

A dislocated jaw means the lower part of the jaw has moved out of its normal position at one or both joints where the jaw bone connects to the skull (temporomandibular joints).

jaw dislocation

The most common cause of a broken or dislocated jaw is injury to the face. This may be due to an assault, an industrial or motor vehicle accident, or recreational or sports injury.

Symptoms of a dislocated jaw include:

  • Bite that feels “off” or crooked
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Drooling because of inability to close the mouth
  • Inability to close the mouth
  • Jaw that may protrude forward
  • Pain in the face or jaw, located in front of the ear on the affected side, and gets worse with movement
  • Teeth that do not line up properly

Complications may include:

  • Airway blockage
  • Bleeding
  • Breathing blood or food into the lungs
  • Difficulty eating (temporary)
  • Difficulty talking (temporary)
  • Infection of the jaw or face
  • Jaw joint (TMJ) pain and other problems
  • Problems aligning the teeth

We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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