Have you ever been in a car accident? If so, you may have encountered whiplash. Also called neck sprain or neck strain, whiplash is a common injury to the neck muscles that occurs when the head is rapidly moved backward or forward and then quickly “whipped” in the opposite direction. Most people associate whiplash with car collisions, but whiplash can also occur from falls, sports injuries, workplace accidents and other incidents.
Whiplash symptoms typically do not become evident until 2-48 hours after the injury. In addition to pain and stiffness in the neck, many whiplash victims complain of pain in the shoulders, arms and upper back. It’s been reported that two-thirds of whiplash patients also suffer from headaches (usually at the base of the skull). Other whiplash victims experience dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, difficulties in concentrating, and extreme fatigue.
Unfortunately, some whiplash victims don’t seek immediate help. Instead, they try to endure the pain, believing it will go away in a few days.
Others seek a wiser option: treatment from a professionally licensed chiropractor. If you decide to visit a chiropractor, don’t be surprised if he/she does not focus your solely on your whiplash condition. Chiropractors, in general, tend to believe that the human body is more interconnected than their medical counterparts believe.
What does that mean? Your chiropractor will likely be focused on the condition of your entire spine – not just your neck area. He/she may suggest a complete physical exam to assess the level of tension, limited mobility, soft tissue damage, and other areas in spasm. In some cases, MRI scans, CT scans and X-rays may be needed to provide your chiropractor a thorough understanding of your injuries before treatment begins.
Typically, immediately following a whiplash incident, a chiropractor will suggest that you apply ice to your neck to reduce inflammation. Therapeutic treatments, such as ultrasound, may also be used early in the process. Once the swelling is reduced, your chiropractor may use gentle manipulation to restore normal motion to your neck.
What other chiropractic techniques might be used to address whiplash?
- Spinal Adjustments: Depending on your diagnosis and symptoms, your chiropractor will identify the best methods of gentle manipulation.
- Manual Therapies: Your chiropractor may place pressure on specific pressure points to relieve tension, use manual joint stretching and resistance techniques, or perform a therapeutic massage to reduce muscle tension.
- Instrument-Assisted Therapies: Interferential electrical stimulation or ultrasound may be used to stimulate muscles, reduce inflammation and/or enhance circulation.