Whiplash injuries are a common injury, but one that can cause severe and sudden pain and discomfort. Whiplash occurs when your neck goes through an acceleration and then deceleration force suddenly. It most commonly occurs after an automotive collision, but impact sports can also cause the injury. Because your head is moving backward and forward at a rapid pace, it causes your ligaments and muscles to go through an unusual range of motion. Whiplash ranges from mild to severe, with multiple treatment options.
Causes of Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash is caused by any rapid movement (usually from behind) that causes the head and neck to snap forward and backward in a swift movement. It is common in a vehicle accident when you aren’t moving or going very slow and someone from behind hits you and is driving fast. Your neck goes into hyperextension which can then cause whiplash. Cameras have found that whiplash is mainly from the rear impact of the lower bones in the neck, called the lower cervical vertebrae, to go into hyperextension.
Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash Injuries rarely shows signs the first few hours, but usually in the first 24 hours. This includes a headache, usually as the base of the skull, stiffness of the neck and generalized neck pain, dizziness, fatigue, and blurry vision. Moderate to severe whiplash cause ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, irritability and problems sleeping. If you have weakness, tingling or numbness in your arms, pain going to the shoulders and arms or you can’t move your head without pain, seek medical attention.
Conditions Associated with Whiplash
Before discussing chiropractic care for whiplash, you should first understand the different types of medical conditions and injuries.
Neck Pain – The most common injury sustained from whiplash trauma is neck pain. The majority of people getting whiplash will have some sort of neck pain. The neck pain may between the shoulder blades, in the head and radiating across the shoulders as well. Facet joint pain seems to be the common cause of neck pain.
Headaches – Headaches are also extremely common, and caused from a combination of the neck pain and brain injury that is caused by the whiplash. All of the other injuries tend to cause pain which can then be referred to the head.
Dizziness – Many people who get whiplash injuries also experience a good amount of dizziness. Like the other medical conditions, the dizziness is caused by the cervical spine’s facet joints becoming injures, along with the brain stem being injured as well.
Lower Back Pain – You may also experience lower back pain from the impact. Approximately half of whiplash injury patients experience lower back pain as a result of rear impact accidents that cause their body to move forward, then snap back.
Chiropractic Care for Whiplash
There are multiple treatment options available for whiplash, with chiropractic care being at the top of the list. The reason so many people turn to chiropractic care is because it is an alternative form of treatment that manipulates the spine and neck to improve the condition as minimally invasive as possible.
Chiropractic care for whiplash injuries uses manipulation of the spine to improve the position of the vertebrae in the spine and restore the movement in this part of the body. For many patients, it is the best way they received recovery, often used in conjunction with physical therapy or massage therapy. Soft tissue rehabilitation may also be needed as this helps improve the ligaments, tendons, muscles, spinal discs and organs that can be affected by a whiplash injury.
Length of Recovery from whiplash
Whiplash injuries tend to heal completely in about 6-9 months. While this seems like a long time, it depends on the severity of pain experienced. You may start feeling relief from your pain within a few days or even weeks, but a full 6 months is needed for complete recovery. This is why chiropractic care is often required for continued treatments. Someone who has severe whiplash injuries will need care for a year or longer.
If you have recently been in an accident and were diagnosed with whiplash, follow your doctor’s orders, but also consider trying alternative treatments like chiropractic care. You can combine this type of treatment with others, such as medications prescribed for the pain, acupuncture, massage therapy and physical therapy. Chiropractic care helps realign your body and manipulate your spine to speed up the recovery time. If after 6 months there is no change, visit your doctor to discuss further options.