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Treating Whiplash Injuries with Chiropractic Care

Published Date: 
August 3, 2022
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A woman grasps the back of her neck because of whiplash pain

Learn more about how chiropractic care for whiplash treats joints, muscle, and soft tissue impacted by whiplash injury.

Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents. Seat belts are effective, but they don't restrain your neck and head, making them bear the brunt of the force of the collision. Whiplash causes discomfort, mobility issues, and brain fog. Chiropractic care for whiplash injuries offers a non-invasive, all-in-one treatment for the damage to the upper cervical region. Learn more about chiropractic care for whiplash and what to expect. 

Understanding Whiplash

Whiplash is the sudden hyperextension and hyperflexion of the neck in a car accident. The impact flings the head forward and then pulls it backward immediately. Whiplash can result in slipped discs, ligament injury, pinched nerves, and injuries to the musculoskeletal system in the neck region. 

How Do I Know if I Have Whiplash? 

Decreased range of motion and neck pain are tell-tale signs you have whiplash. But since this pain can have many causes, only a diagnosis from a reputable chiropractor can rule out other causes. However, the common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Vertigo
  • Headaches 
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to concentrate

If you notice any of the above symptoms, book an appointment at a chiropractic center. A chiropractor will use a diverse range of diagnostic tests for spinal damage to determine whether you have whiplash.

A man suffers from whiplash after an auto accident

How Whiplash Is Treated by a Chiropractor

Each whiplash injury is unique. Chiropractors approved by the American Chiropractic Association leverage imaging tests, spatial motion, mobility tests, and even blood tests to diagnose whiplash. The comprehensive diagnosis procedure ensures the chiropractor rules out any degenerative disease and determines your candidacy for chiropractic treatment before tailoring a unique treatment plan. We’ll explain the available treatments that chiropractors use to treat whiplash.

Chiropractic Adjustment for Whiplash 

Chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation involves soft or hard thrusts to the spine in the restricted direction of motion. The adjustments aim to realign the spine and restore a normal range of motion. 

The chiropractor may use flexion-distraction techniques to adjust the neck region in unique situations, especially if you have herniated discs. Chiropractic adjustments improve nerve function, restore the range of motion, and prevent long-term spinal damage.

Muscle Relaxation or Stimulation

Muscle relaxation involves stretching tense muscles and stimulating trigger points to release pent-up energy. The technique may also include muscle relaxants or finger pressure stimulations. The tighter your muscles are, the more stretches you need. Muscle relaxation and stimulation release the pain from tight muscles caused by whiplash.

Manual Therapy for Soft Tissue Whiplash Injuries

If soft tissue injury is left untreated, it scars and forms lumps. These lumps build up between the vertebrae and restrict the range of motion. Manual therapy for soft tissue whiplash injuries involves manual or instrument-assisted stimulation to tense muscles. The chiropractor can employ stretch and resist methods as manual therapy in a treatment plan for soft tissue injury. The techniques alleviate inflammation and release tension in the muscles. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves a range of exercises to reinstate normal spine motion. It also includes massages, McKenzie exercises, and other hands-on exercises. The physical therapist may also use electrical nerve stimulation to stimulate your muscles. Physical therapy depends on your physical exertion limit, and treatment plans vary from person to person.

A chiropractor treats a man's whiplash injury.

Stages of Chiropractic Whiplash Treatment 

The preliminary stage of chiropractic treatment is scheduling a visit to the chiropractor, where they will diagnose your whiplash injury and tailor a treatment plan. Initial treatment aims to reduce acute pain through ultrasound stimulation or heat and ice therapy to reduce the inflammation. The following stage is where the chiropractor will use soft tissue therapy or spinal adjustments to correct mechanical and nerve-related damage, relieving pain and restoring your range of motion. 

How Long Whiplash Takes to Heal with Chiropractic Care

There is no set-in-stone time when you can expect to see a resolution. Usually, many patients report long-term relief from pain after six weeks of chiropractic care. How fast you heal depends on the technique used and the degree of injury. 

Conclusion

If you experience whiplash after an auto accident, it is best to visit a chiropractor. Don’t wait for more than 72 hours for your first visit. Proper diagnosis is essential to develop effective chiropractic care for a whiplash treatment plan. Chiropractic care provides pain relief and prevents long-term mobility issues. Always ensure you visit reputable chiropractic centers for treatment.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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