Exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy for people experiencing whiplash
Whiplash is a common injury to the neck that happens, especially after a car accident. Most times, whiplash is a minor injury, but it can lead to serious long-term consequences if left untreated.
This article will explain what these chronic issues are and how chiropractic care can benefit those who are suffering from whiplash.
Read More: 6 Benefits Of Chiropractic Treatment
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury of the neck muscles. It occurs when the neck is forcefully and quickly thrust back and forth. It most often occurs as the result of a car accident, but any scenario that causes this neck motion can result in a whiplash injury. Most people experience neck pain almost immediately. It may feel sore or tender to move or even to touch the area.
Consequences of Leaving Whiplash Untreated
Just like any injury, the repercussions and lasting effects of whiplash vary from person to person. For some, whiplash symptoms can be so minor that they go away within a couple of days. For others, the symptoms can become chronic and cause a range of problems like:
Chronic Pain, Stiffness, and Loss of Motion
Your chronic pain could range anywhere from mild to severe. It might be located in one spot or the entire neck area, or it could even flow down the shoulder into the arm and/or hand. Untreated whiplash can also lead to reduced mobility and range of motion.
Chronic Headaches and Migraines
Often when someone has whiplash, their neck muscles tighten, or a nerve becomes irritated. Chronic headaches and migraines may flare up immediately after whiplash or in the days to weeks afterwards and can become worse without treatment.
Vertigo is a condition where a person feels like they are falling or spinning. Vertigo is a common side effect of whiplash. In fact, one study found 25–50% of participants had experienced spells of dizziness after injury.
Whiplash often causes the uppermost vertebrae in the neck to move out of proper spinal alignment. More specifically, the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae form the joint connecting the skull and spine. Misalignment of these upper two vertebrae inhibits normal communication from the brain to the body’s central nervous system.
How Chiropractic Care Can Be An Effective Treatment
First, a chiropractor will evaluate your spine as a whole. After evaluating the affected area and identifying the problem areas, disc injury, muscle spasm and ligament injury, the chiropractor may use a variety of techniques to treat whiplash, including:
Chiropractic adjustment or spinal manipulation may involve the application of a short thrust in a specific direction. Or instead of a thrust, a slow mobilizing movement is used by the chiropractor. Additionally, for those who experience vertigo, chiropractic care on the upper cervical spine can provide relief.
Muscle Relaxation and Muscle Stimulation
The primary whiplash treatment is muscle relaxation and/or stimulation. That includes gentle stretches and contractions of the injured muscles.
McKenzie exercises are designed to lessen disc instability related to a whiplash injury. They are simple movements that teach the nervous system to coordinate and control better movement patterns. McKenzie exercises also enhance the neck’s ability to maintain stability. And, they are typically simple enough to do at home.
Specific Trigger Point Therapy
Your chiropractor can identify spinal joints that aren’t functioning properly. They will help to restore joint motion with a gentle thrusting technique. This motion can stretch body tissues and stimulate the nervous system. Your chiropractor may also press down on tight or painful muscle points, which will drastically help to alleviate muscle tension.
Soft Tissue Therapy
Since whiplash often involves soft tissue injury, chiropractors can also include soft tissue therapies in the treatment plan. Therapeutic massages are one of the more common examples of soft tissue therapy.
Additional Therapy Options
If you have ongoing whiplash pain or need assistance with range-of-motion exercises, physical therapy might be beneficial to you. Your therapist will guide you through exercises that will strengthen your muscles.
There are a series of stretches and movement exercises you can do at home to help restore your range of motion.
Exercises may include:
- Rotating your neck in both directions
- Tilting your head side to side
- Bending your neck toward your chest
- Rolling your shoulders
Soft foam cervical collars are used to hold the neck and head still. A collar can help reduce the pain you feel right after your injury and provide enough relief to help you sleep at night. But, be sure not to wear the collar for too long because it can decrease muscle strength and interfere with recovery.
Is Chiro Right for Me
If you are experiencing whiplash pain, a chiropractor can help to treat your injury. They will be sure to examine the underlying cause of the pain and develop a tailored treatment plan that will help you achieve short- and long-term pain relief.