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Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash Car Accident Victims

Published Date: 
May 16, 2017
A chiropractor administers a neck adjustment to treat whiplash on a female patient.

Some people are unaware that a low-velocity, rear-end collision can lead to whiplash injuries. A whiplash happens when a sudden head movement tears the muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues of the neck. At the onset, the patient may not feel any form of tenderness; however, whiplash pain can develop 24 hours or more after the collision. The following are the causes of whiplash symptoms and chiropractic treatments for whiplash car accident victims.

Some Whiplash Symptoms and Possible Causes

Neck stiffness is a symptom of whiplash that may be due to an irritated or wounded facet joint. Once spinal cord injury is ruled out, the patient can be asked to sit and extend her neck by turning to the right. If turning produces pain in the right side of the neck, a joint injury is probable. If the pain though is on the left or front part of the neck, then this joint may not be affected, and the next step is to have the patient turn to the left side too in order to determine if there are joint injuries on that side.

Headaches are common in whiplash patients as well and could be caused by referred pain from irritated nerves caused by rapid neck movement during the crash. The nerves in the spine and jaw, as well as the greater and lesser occipital nerves may be affected too and generate headaches.

Numbness and tingling in the arm or fingers are also widespread after a car crash. If the patient is not suffering from neurological deficiency, the pain can be resolved in about two months, after sufficient rest. Other possible whiplash symptoms are back pain, possibly because of the overextension of the spine and dizziness from front neck muscle spasms.

Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash

Chiropractic care offers alternative or complementary whiplash treatments. After checking the health condition of the patient, a chiropractor may apply one or more of the following therapies.

Spinal manipulation can help treat neck injuries, including neck and back pain. To conduct this technique, the chiropractor gently moves the affected joint into the direction that is restricted by the pain. Apart from a short thrust, a slow mobilizing action may be applied.

Another whiplash treatment is muscle relaxation or stimulation of the tensed muscle through gentle stretches. A very tight muscle, however, may require a more vigorous stretch.

Furthermore, gentle finger pressure techniques can also be applied to trigger points and decrease the pain.

Other chiropractic techniques are McKenzie exercises that may diminish disc derangement and consist of simple movements, and stabilization and sensorimotor exercises for the correction of improper movement patterns.

Whiplash car accident patients can access alternative or complementary chiropractic care that can help address pain and mobility problems. Consider visiting a chiropractor if neck or back pain lasts for more than a day and disrupts everyday functioning.


“After the crash: Treating whiplash,”
“Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash,”

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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